BALTIMORE | A video played in the Johns Hopkins locker room all week, littered with clips from the Blue Jays’ games earlier this season against Princeton, Syracuse and Virginia.
All were victories, from a far better time for a team that dropped three of four to open April.
“It was more getting them to recognize we weren’t as good as people said we were when we were No. 1 and we’re not as bad as people say we are when we lose two in a row,” coach Dave Pietramala said. “For us, it’s mental. It was just to remind them we’re the same team that won nine games.”
Make it 10.
The No. 11 Blue Jays squandered a four-goal lead in the final 13 minutes, then scored with 2.3 seconds left in overtime to upend No. 1 Loyola 10-9 before 6,000 at the Ridley Athletic Complex.
Rob Guida scored the winner, slipping a knuckleball past goalie Jack Runkel (14 saves) to hand Hopkins (10-3) its 13th straight victory in the annual series.
“I think they said it went through my legs, but I didn’t even know they had scored until everyone was running on the field,” Runkel said. “It happened really fast.”
Such is the case with so much about the Greyhounds (12-1), an up-tempo bunch that wobbled early but wound up creating an ideal setting for themselves throughout the second half. An early 5-0 hole evolved into a 9-5 deficit early in the fourth quarter.
Yet back Loyola came, finally tying it with five seconds remaining when attackman Justin Ward beat defenseman Gavin Crisafulli from around cage.
Regardless of the score, Loyola was in control. The Greyhounds had forced overtime, and were poised to deal Hopkins its third consecutive setback —- a possibility that seemed unthinkable merely a few weeks ago.
But the Blue Jays were hammered by North Carolina, then were uncharacteristically tentative while blowing a three-goal lead in the second half to Maryland. Last week, Hopkins suffered a befuddling 8-2 loss at Navy.
The murmurs, ever amplified on the school’s Homewood campus, expanded rapidly. They would have grown more with another loss to end April, and Loyola attackman Eric Lusby nearly provided such misery with a nifty shot out of a timeout in overtime. Instead, he drilled the pipe.
“We talked a lot about not flinching, and I don’t think we flinched today,” Pietramala said.
The Blue Jays surely didn’t as overtime wrapped up. Zach Palmer collected a groundball after a near-turnover by John Ranagan, then slipped it into toward the crease.
“It was just a great look by Zach and I was able to put it right through the goalie’s legs and luckily it trickled in,” Guida said.
It was a highlight, the first with any staying power for Hopkins since Ranagan’s overtime winner at Virginia last month.
Hopkins didn’t seem remotely vulnerable to a slump at that time. The next four weeks changed that thinking. So while the Blue Jays watched reminders of earlier success this week, they might just appreciate the value of their latest victory most of all.
“We just wanted to remind our team that we’re a good team,” Pietramala said. “I don’t think we’re great yet. I think we’re like a lot of other teams. Sometimes, we can’t get out of our own way. I thought today, we had a lot of fight in us.”
—- Patrick Stevens