BALTIMORE, MD – Junior attackman Zach Palmer scored a career-high five goals and added two assists and the 10th-ranked Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse team scored nine of the game’s final 11 goals as the Blue Jays knocked off visiting Army, 13-6, at Homewood Field Saturday afternoon. Johns Hopkins finishes the regular season with a record of 11-3 and seems assured of a record 41st consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament. Army ends its season at 7-8.
After Army’s Alex Van Krevel knotted the game at 4-4 early in the third quarter, Palmer and the Blue Jay offense took over. Palmer answered Van Krevel’s strike just 10 seconds later as he scored off a nice skip pass from senior Chris Boland to give Hopkins a lead that it would never relinquish. Sophomore Greg Edmonds dipped inside his defender at the top of the box and scored on the run 61 seconds later and Brandon Benn’s rebound goal 90 seconds after that gave the Blue Jays their second three-goal lead of the game.
Conor Hayes’ goal just under a minute after Benn’s tally made it 7-5, but Benn’s second goal of the game, this one off an assist from John Ranagan, and another Palmer goal made it 9-5 before Devin Lynch closed the third quarter scoring with an unassisted tally of his own to make it 9-6 entering the final period. Palmer’s goal that made it 9-5 was the latest of his highlight-reel goals this season as he went behind-the-back from in tight with a pair of defenders on him to stake JHU to its first four-goal lead of the game.
The Blue Jays, who dominated at the X throughout the game, won all five faceoffs in the fourth quarter and used that possession advantage to outscore the Black Knights 4-0 in the final 15 minutes; Palmer had a hand in all four goals.
After coming up with a loose ball in a riding situation, he went in alone on goalie Zach Palmieri and beat him low before capping another transition opportunity with his career-best fifth goal of the game off another assist from Boland to make it 11-6. Boland capped the victory with back-to-back goals in a two-minute span midway through the quarter – both off assists from Palmer – to account for the final scoring.
Army was held scoreless in the final 15 minutes to mark the 16th time this season the Blue Jay defense has held the opposition scoreless in a quarter.
A tightly contested first half saw the Blue Jays jump out to a 4-1 lead as Ranagan, Palmer, Boland a freshman Wells Stanwick all scored in the first 18 minutes of the game, but Army hung in and pulled within a goal by intermission as senior Garrett Thul’s 39th goal of the season midway through the second quarter was followed by Van Krevel’s first of the game as he blew a 14-yarder from the top of the box past Hopkins goalie Pierce Bassett to account for a 4-3 score at the half.
By the time Van Krevel added his second goal just under four minutes into the third quarter, the Blue Jays had gone more than 16 minutes without scoring and the Black Knights had eaten away all of JHU’s three-goal lead. The tie last just 10 seconds before Palmer’s transition goal opened the floodgates as the Blue Jays scored on nine of their 21 second-half shots to secure their 18th consecutive victory over Army.
Palmer led the Blue Jays with his five goals and two assists as he scored on five of his seven shots in the game and had a hand in six of the nine goals Johns Hopkins scored after halftime. Boland added his 11th career hat trick as he totaled three goals and two assists, while Ranagan (1g, 2a) and Benn (2g) also added multi-point games for the Blue Jays. Junior Mike Poppleton continued to excel on faceoffs for the Blue Jays as he won 15-of-19 and grabbed a game-high six ground balls. The 15 faceoffs won match Poppleton’s career high.
Army goal two goals from Van Krevel and Lynch and one goal and one assist from Hayes, but Thul, who entered the game with 38 goals on the year, was held to just one goal and the Black Knights didn’t get a point from a non-starter.
Johns Hopkins will learn its NCAA fate on Sunday, May 6 at 9 pm when the bracket for the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Tournament is announced live on ESPNU. Johns Hopkins has qualified for the NCAA Tournament in each of the last 40 years. The streak is the longest active streak of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament in any Division I team sport.
Army (7-8) 1-2-3-0/6
#10 Johns Hopkins (11-3) 2-2-5-4/13
Goals: A: Lynch-2, Van Krevel-2, Hayes, Thul. J: Palmer-5, Boland-3, Benn-2, Ranagan, Stanwick, Edmonds.Assists: A: Glesener, Hayes. J: Boland-2, Palmer-2, Ranagan-2, Goodrich. Saves: A: Palmieri-7, Somers-1. J: Bassett-5, Burke-1, Van Syckle-0. Shots: A-24. J-37. EMO: A: 0-for-1. J: 1-for-2. Attendance: 5,130.