- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 21, 2004

BALTIMORE — Johns Hopkins’ lacrosse team has been ranked No.1 all season, and if yesterday’s game is any indication, the Blue Jays won’t be giving up the spot any time soon.

Capitalizing on a heavy edge on faceoffs, Hopkins administered a 17-5 bludgeoning to third-ranked Syracuse before 6,519 at Homewood Field, the Orangemen’s worst defeat in 17 years.

Syracuse (3-1), usually one of the country’s most explosive teams, never had much of a chance at the offensive end. Hopkins won 20 of 24 faceoffs and did not allow Syracuse to establish the transition game it favors.

“It was very much like last year’s game,” Syracuse coach John Desko said. “In the second half, we just could not get the ball back to our offense. I thought we played way too much defense.”

The Orangemen’s starting attack of Brian Crockett, Brian Nee and Michael Powell, who combined to average almost 15 points before yesterday, managed three goals and three assists against the Blue Jays.

“How do you limit Mike Powell and Brian Crockett? You try your best to play great defense and put together some schemes, but ultimately your best defense is your offense and your faceoff guys,” Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. “If Mike Powell doesn’t have the ball and Brian Crockett doesn’t have the ball, they don’t score. It was the most important part of this game.”

Conor Ford scored four goals and Kyle Barrie three, and Kevin Boland added four assists for the Blue Jays (5-0), who won their 23rd straight home game.

Hopkins’ Kyle Harrison (10 of 11) and Greg Peyser (six of eight) dominated the faceoffs and often did not allow the wings to have a chance to snare a groundball. Desko cycled through five faceoff men, including freshman long pole Steve Panarelli, but the result was almost always the same: another opportunity for Hopkins to chip away at the increasingly weary Orangemen’s defense.

“They made plays,” Panarelli said. “It’s tough with them having it so long. We felt awful we couldn’t get our guys the ball.”

The games between the two tradition-rich programs usually are close — nine of the previous 11 meetings were decided by two or fewer goals — but Hopkins has now throttled Syracuse two straight times. In last year’s national semifinals, the Blue Jays overcame a 7-6 halftime deficit to pummel the Orangemen 19-8.

Hopkins didn’t wait nearly as long to take over yesterday. Jake Byrne, Ford and Barrie scored as the Blue Jays dominated the first eight minutes en route to a 3-0 lead. The Orangemen crawled back within 3-2 after Nee scored both in transition and on a wraparound late in the first quarter.

Despite the close margin, Hopkins held an 18-5 advantage in shots and was clearly in control. Harrison’s 18-yard laser with 10:07 left in the second quarter sparked a 7-0 run for the Blue Jays, who took a 10-3 lead into the break.

The Orangemen’s woes continued in the third quarter when the Blue Jays scored twice early to mercifully chase beleaguered Syracuse goalie Jay Pfeifer (eight saves). Hopkins stretched its lead to 16-3 early in the fourth quarter.

“It was our best day to date, and I think we picked a pretty important day to do it because now we have a big win,” Pietramala said. “I think Syracuse is a very good team.”

It was the Orangemen’s worst defeat since a 19-6 loss to Cornell in 1987 and the program’s lowest offensive output since a 10-3 setback at North Carolina in 1991. Syracuse had scored at least 18 goals in each of its first three games.

Powell, the Orangemen’s star attackman, was held without a point for just the second time in his career.

The senior had two one-on-one opportunities in the third quarter, but Hopkins goalie Scott Smith (10 saves) stuffed him both times.

“I never would have thought one of their goalies would have two one-on-one saves with Mike Powell in a game like this,” Desko said. “I think it’s a very strong Hopkins team. They had great play offensively, good team defense. When their goalie plays like that, you can’t beat them.”

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