CHAPEL HILL, NC –The visiting Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse team used a 5-1 run midway through the second half to turn a 7-6 deficit into an 11-8 lead and the Blue Jays held off a late rally by 10th-ranked North Carolina to slip past the Tar Heels, 11-10, at muddy, rain-soaked Kenan Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Blue Jays led by three early, later trailed by two and then used the game-turning run to pick up their first win of the season.
Ara Atayan’s third goal of the game with 5:04 left in the third quarter gave UNC the 7-6 lead, but the Blue Jays answered with two goals in an 88-second span late in the period to grab an 8-7 lead. Both goals were scored by senior Kyle Marr and both were assisted by junior Cole Williams; as it turned out, it was a lead the Blue Jays would never relinquish.
The Blue Jays (1-2) needed just 32 seconds in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 9-7 as a caused turnover by senior Pat Foley led to a quick transition that Matt Hubler polished off after he was sprung by an outlet from junior Jack Rapine. That was the third goal of the game scored by a defensive player for Hopkins and Rapine’s assist on the goal was the third assist by a Blue Jay defender.
The two-goal lead was cut in half less than 90 seconds later when Tanner Cook blew home a 12-yarder after a nice skip pass from Alex Trippi, but an extra-man goal from freshman Joey Epstein jut over two minutes later and a quick-stick goal on the doorstep from sophomore Brett Baskin (off an Epstein assist) gave the Blue Jays the 11-8 lead with 6:31 to play.
That lead held until the final minute, when Jack Rowlett scored in transition with 33 seconds left and Timmy Kelly added one in transition off the ensuing faceoff 19 seconds later to make it a one-goal game.
However, senior Robert Kuhn came up with the ground ball on the faceoff after Kelly’s goal and the Blue Jays were able to run out the clock to seal the victory.
A late-game run didn’t seem like it would be necessary early on as Jack Keogh, Epstein and Forry Smith all scored in the opening 7:21 to give the Blue Jays an early 3-0 lead. Johns Hopkins fired 16 of its 36 shots in the game in the opening period.
Carolina (3-0) then held the Blue Jays scoreless for more than 19 minutes and scored five times in that span to turn the early 3-0 deficit into a 5-3 lead midway through the second quarter. Atayan scored twice during the run for the Tar Heels.
A transition goal by senior Robert Kuhn with 3:02 left in the first half made it a 5-4 game at halftime and the teams split the first four goals of the second half to account for the 7-6 Tar Heel lead after Atayan’s third goal with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter. Atayan’s goal set the stage for the 5-1 Blue Jay run that Marr jump-started with his 86th and 87th career goals.
It was a balanced scoring attack for the Blue Jays, who had nine different players score a goal and seven different players combined for the nine assists Johns Hopkins totaled on its 11 goals. Epstein (2g, 2a), Marr (2g, 1a), Taite Cattoni (1g, 1a), Owen Colwell (1g, 1a) and Williams (2a) all registered at least two points in the win.
Freshman Matt Narewski won 12-of-24 faceoffs for the Blue Jays, who also got seven saves from sophomore Ryan Darby in goal.
Atayan’s three goals led the Tar Heels, who also had a balanced scoring sheet with seven other players scoring one goal apiece. Jack Pezzulla posted four saves in goal for the Tar Heels, who held a slight advantage in ground balls (34-30), but were outshot 36-35.
Johns Hopkins will return to action on Saturday, March 2 at Princeton when the Blue Jays play the second of three straight road games. Faceoff is set for 12 pm at Class of 1952 Stadium.
Notes: Marr extended his goal-scoring streak to 17 games with his two goals today • The win leaves Dave Pietramala two wins shy of 200 for his career at Johns Hopkins • Including today, 11 of the last 21 Johns Hopkins-North Carolina games have been decided by two goals or less.