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Hoyas have familiar demise
PRINCETON, N.J. — Georgetown’s season of firsts ended with a common finish — a loss one game short of college lacrosse’s biggest stage.
The Hoyas stumbled out of the NCAA tournament in the quarterfinals for a record sixth straight season, absorbing a 14-6 blitzing from No. 3 Johns Hopkins before 8,123 at Princeton Stadium.
Georgetown (12-3) upended Maryland and Princeton for the first time in program history this year but is still seeking its first final four appearance since 1999.
“We’re going to keep banging on the door, and we’ll knock it down one of these days,” coach Dave Urick said. “Quite honestly, I don’t get hung up on this whole quarterfinal thing as maybe you guys do. Maybe it bothers our kids a little bit more, but it never has bothered me all that much.”
This was perhaps the most befuddling loss of the streak. There have been three one-goal setbacks, as well as blowouts losses to Virginia as it raced to national titles in 2003 and 2006.
This one portended to be a bit closer. Like the Hoyas, who entered on an eight-game winning streak, Johns Hopkins (11-4) made a habit of playing close games throughout the year.
Instead, attackman Kevin Huntley matched a career-high with five goals after being penalized for an illegal stick, and the Blue Jays bottled up Georgetown’s attack to earn a berth in the semifinals against UMBC or Delaware.
“Whatever you guys want to say [about how] we can’t get past this quarterfinal game, it’s better than being home,” defenseman Jerry Lambe said. “That’s how I look at it.”
Jake Byrne put Johns Hopkins up 3-1 in the closing seconds of the first quarter, but the Hoyas seemed to catch a break when Huntley was sent to the box with a nonreleasable three-minute penalty for a stick that was too narrow at its widest point.
Georgetown managed only two shots, one stopped by Jesse Schwartzman (15 saves), and two turnovers before the penalty expired. And while the Hoyas said their inability to capitalize didn’t sap them, they managed only two shots the rest of the quarter as Johns Hopkins built a 6-1 lead.
“I was relieved after they didn’t score one after that,” Huntley said. “Our defense played tremendous the whole time. To me, sitting there watching is the toughest thing. When that happens, it’s all on my shoulders.”
Georgetown, which generates much of its offense from around the crease, received no points from its four-man rotation of attackmen. Johns Hopkins defenseman Michael Evans shut down the Hoyas’ Brendan Cannon, whose 34-game streak with a point came to an end.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays’ offense dissected the Hoyas with precise passing, with Huntley an especially motivated beneficiary of the rapid ball movement.
“They worked it around really quickly, and they got a lot of redodges,” Lambe said. “If you keep on doing that, it’s tough to stay on people like him and Byrne inside. You turn your back on them for a second, there’s some shifty, opportunistic players who found creases and took advantage of it pretty well, squeezing some shots that I didn’t think had any chance of going in.”
Combined with the offensive struggles, it doomed Georgetown to yet another premature departure. Yet even after the Hoyas’ seventh quarterfinal exit in eight years, Urick remained proud of his program’s accomplishments.
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
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