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No. 7 Johns Hopkins overwhelms No. 2 Virginia late to capture Doyle Smith Cup

The Blue Jays delivered the Cavaliers their first loss after a furious fourth-quarter charge

<p>A Johns Hopkins defenseman confronts junior midfielder Griffin Schutz.</p>

A Johns Hopkins defenseman confronts junior midfielder Griffin Schutz.

Virginia and Johns Hopkins seemed tied together all afternoon Saturday, neither team building more than a two-goal advantage. But in a frenetic battle at Klöckner Stadium, the No. 7 Blue Jays (5-1, 0-0 Big Ten) eventually embarked on a four-goal second-half run against the No. 2 Cavaliers (3-1, 0-0 ACC), grabbing a fragile lead and holding on to capture a 16-14 win.

The first-half felt frenzied. The goals flowed unchecked, and loose ball scrambles turned messy. Johns Hopkins scored first, then Virginia scored three in a row, then Johns Hopkins scored four in a row, then Virginia scored four in a row. The half featured superlative shooting on both sides. Perhaps the moment that best exemplified this came when senior defenseman Cole Kastner sprinted across midfield, got pushed from behind and still lashed the ball into the corner.

The Cavaliers, even after ditching a late opportunity to extend their advantage, carried a 10-8 lead into halftime. Junior midfielder Griffin Schutz, who sailed surprisingly under the radar in the season’s first three games, doubled his season points tally by halftime with three goals and an assist.

The game, after its first-half fireworks, settled into a stodgy third quarter. The torrent of goals slowed, with Virginia maintaining a slight advantage. Then Johns Hopkins erupted. Late in the third quarter, sophomore midfielder Matt Collison, who finished with four goals and an assist, triggered a cascade. He scored, and then a few minutes later so did senior midfielder Johnathan Peshko, who finished with identical stats to Collison. The Blue Jays scored twice more before Virginia was able to stop the bleeding.

The scoring run left Hopkins ahead 14-12, and the Blue Jays never relinquished the lead, but Virginia certainly tried to recover. With six minutes left, graduate attackman Connor Shellenberger scooped up a loose ball, motored around two defenders and, falling down, switched hands and scored. 

Shellenberger’s goal made it 14-13. The Cavaliers, though, bungled an ensuing man-up opportunity, the defense getting sucked out of position trying to force a turnover and conceding a sloppy goal. Shellenberger, who dazzled with four goals and two assists, scored again a minute later, sniping the corner of the goal after graduate midfielder Thomas Colucci cleanly won the faceoff.

This raised a glimmer of hope, but the Cavaliers needed a stop and didn’t get one. Johns Hopkins dawdled on its next offensive possession, leaching the clock dry, then Collison suddenly curved around from behind the goal and rifled a shot to the near bottom corner to seal the victory. 

The Blue Jays benefited especially in the second half from the formidable play of graduate goalie Chayse Ierlan, who recorded 16 saves. But perhaps their main advantage came at the faceoff spot, which they largely controlled all afternoon, winning 20 of 34 faceoffs.

The Cavaliers suffered, it seemed, from the absence of junior Anthony Ghobriel, who has led the faceoff brigade all season but sustained an injury last week against Ohio State. The game did, however, mark the return of senior midfielder Gable Braun, who missed the first three games with an unspecified injury. 

Braun entered the season as the putative starter within a muddled depth chart. He shouldered the largest burden in his return Saturday, taking slightly over half of Virginia’s faceoffs and going 7-18. Graduate student Matthew DeSouza went 3-10, and Colucci went 4-6.

“It was one of those days where their faceoff game was feeling it, especially in that fourth quarter when they got those three or four in a row,” Coach Lars Tiffany said. “Make it or take it, they're scoring. And then the goalie play — Ierlan made a bunch of saves.”

With the win, Johns Hopkins recovered custody of the Doyle Smith Cup, breaking a three-game losing streak in one of college lacrosse’s most storied rivalries. Virginia missed an opportunity to do something it had not done in 27 years — defeat four ranked opponents to start the season. The Cavaliers also seemed potentially primed to summit the national rankings with a win, after No. 1 Duke’s stunning loss Friday night. Saturday’s loss represents a missed opportunity on that front as well.

“The result? Feels awful,” Tiffany said. “Of course it does.”

Virginia has little time to sulk, however. The Cavaliers return to the field Tuesday for a 4 p.m. matchup at Klöckner Stadium against Robert Morris. The game will be broadcast on ACCN Extra.


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