- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 11, 2006

No. 8 Johns Hopkins found itself in an unfamiliar position this week: Trying to recover from a loss.

The Blue Jays went 16-0 last season and won their first NCAA title since 1987. Seven days ago, though, Hopkins lost for the first time since the 2004 semifinals, a 6-4 setback against Princeton that also snapped a 37-game winning streak at Homewood Field dating to 2001.

The loss — much like the constant expectations — hung with the Blue Jays, who needed an eight-goal fourth quarter flurry to roll past No. 19 Maryland-Baltimore County 12-7 on Tuesday. The outburst was well-timed for Hopkins, which couldn’t get attackmen Kevin Huntley and Jake Byrne going for nearly two games.

“We played against a good team, but it seemed like it carried from the preseason into the first game into the second game and things added up,” senior midfielder Greg Peyser said. “We kept saying ‘We’re going to get it this time,’ and it never came. We played well in the defensive end and we never got that spark that we needed, which we got [Tuesday], something we could take and let it snowball into something bigger.”

Perhaps it will continue to do so today at No. 15 Hofstra (1-1). If nothing else, the Blue Jays are better prepared to handle adversity later in their typically brutal schedule.

“For me, I understand it’s a loss. It’s my job. You lose games,” Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. “But for these young guys, I think they put so much pressure on themselves to live up to their expectations and the expectations of their coaches. We played tight. It was one loss. Now we’ve learned that. Having it behind us and having a win, we learned the world didn’t end.”

Lefty Rubeor returns

One component of Virginia’s 20-15 defeat of Syracuse on Saturday was the efficient return of attackman Ben Rubeor.

The sophomore missed two games with a sprained ankle for the No. 2 Cavaliers (5-0), who visit No. 5 Princeton (2-0) tomorrow. His return gave some extra flexibility to coach Dom Starsia, who can rotate slick freshman Garrett Billings in on attack and in the midfield. Rubeor also provides a much-needed lefty to give the Cavaliers a different look.

“He gives our team balance offensively,” Starsia said. “He’s that left hand. We’re a much more dangerous lacrosse team when we have that lefty at the bottom.”

‘First 4’ redux

Division I lacrosse returns to the Left Coast for the second straight year tonight with a doubleheader in the First 4 in San Diego.

No. 3 Duke (4-1) meets No. 17 Loyola (2-1) in the first game, while No. 4 Navy (3-0) opens Patriot League play against Bucknell (1-2) in the nightcap.

The Mids are seeking to avenge their only Patriot League loss since they joined the conference in 2004. The Bison stunned the visiting Mids 8-7 last season, but Navy rebounded to win the conference tournament and reach the NCAA quarterfinals.

UMBC eyes improvement

UMBC almost pulled off a shocker Tuesday at Hopkins before the Blue Jays’ offensive cascade. The Retrievers (2-1) did lead 5-3 late in the third quarter behind midfielder James Hyland’s four goals, providing some hope they could return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999.

Still, the offense wasn’t particularly efficient for the Retrievers, who today visit Penn (a 13-4 winner at North Carolina on Tuesday).

“It’s time to see some improvement in some areas we need to improve on,” coach Don Zimmerman said. “One thing is [getting] everybody on the same page. Defensively, I think we’re doing a good job. I think [Jeremy] Blevins is doing a good job for us in the goal for a freshman.

But offensively, we haven’t reached the point where we’re really playing well together.”

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