- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 24, 2003

BALTIMORE — Johns Hopkins rolled into the NCAA tournament championship game yesterday at M&T; Bank Stadium. Syracuse just rolled over.

After struggling for a half, the Blue Jays scored 14 straight goals against the Orangemen to claim a 19-8 victory in the semifinals on a rain-soaked field. Hopkins, which hasn’t won a championship since 1987, advanced to its first title game since 1989 and snapped a seven-game losing streak in the semifinals.

Kyle Barrie and Bobby Benson both scored four goals and Kevin Boland had four assists for top-seeded Hopkins (14-1), which has won 11 in a row and will play Virginia in tomorrow’s 11 a.m. title game.

“We took a lot of the momentum out of their game in the second half and put the ball in our stick,” Boland said. “Once we got the jitters out and had the momentum going, there was no turning back.”

Syracuse (10-6) failed to reach the title game for the first time since 1998. It was the Orangemen’s largest margin of defeat in a tournament game and was the program’s worst loss since a 19-6 drubbing against Cornell in 1987.

The Orangemen had a 30-minute, 34-second scoring drought spanning much of the second half. Michael Powell — who led the potent Syracuse offense this season with 62 points — managed just two assists, both in the first quarter. Michael Springer, who had a team-high 35 goals, was shut out in the last 55 minutes.

“Sometimes when you lose by a goal, it’s difficult and you look back and question everything, but when you got manhandled like we did today, my hat’s off to them,” Syracuse coach John Desko said.

Hopkins trailed 7-6 at halftime, but quickly drew even when Kyle Harrison scored 25 seconds into the third quarter. Conor Ford’s goal through goalie Jay Pfeifer’s legs with 5:51 left in the period gave the Blue Jays their first lead, but the onslaught didn’t begin until late in the quarter. Benson scored a transition goal from the crease off Corey Harned’s feed and Barrie added another crease goal to extend the lead to 10-7.

Peter LeSueur and Ford scored 23 seconds apart early in the fourth to widen the gap, but the Blue Jays kept winning faceoffs and applying offensive pressure. Hopkins scored another four goals in just more than three minutes to turn it into a laugher.

All along, the Blue Jays had their earlier meeting with the Orangemen in mind. Syracuse erased an 8-2 deficit March 16 at the Carrier Dome to pull out a 15-14 victory and hand Hopkins its only loss of the season.

“We were all pretty nervous about them coming back,” said Hopkins defenseman Tom Garvey, who was matched against Powell for much of the game. “Toward the end of the game I thought ‘Wow, this is pretty cool.’”

Hopkins spent much of the first half playing catch-up against the fast-starting Orangemen. With the Blue Jays preoccupied with Powell, Syracuse jumped to a 3-0 lead. Hopkins persistently chipped away at the lead and pulled within a goal several times, including Boland’s wraparound goal with 1:01 left in the half.

It proved to be a prelude to the second half, when the Blue Jays scored most of their goals from within five yards of Pfeifer (12 saves).

“Hopkins really hustled around,” Powell said. “They were a step ahead of us all day. The field conditions definitely didn’t help our style of play and our ground ball ability. They just showed more heart today than us.”

Notes — It was the largest margin of defeat in the final four since Maryland upset Loyola 19-8 in the 1998 semifinals … Hopkins has outscored its three NCAA tournament opponents 29-4 in the second half … Boland has 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) in the postseason. … Hopkins goalie Rob Scherr made 15 saves.

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