Only three teams had entered the week with a stingier defense than Johns Hopkins.
The defensive play of the No. 10 Terps helped them upend the No. 5 Blue Jays, 9-6, at Homewood Field in Baltimore. That unit – which also entered the week ranked eighth in Division I after surrendering just 7.8 goals per game – didn't allow Johns Hopkins to score over the final 29 minutes, 17 seconds of the contest, which was that team's longest drought of the season.
Freshman defenseman Goran Murray shut out junior attackman Zach Palmer, the team's top playmaker with 34 points, for the first time this season. And the starting attack of Palmer, senior Chris Boland and sophomore Brandon Benn combined for just two goals and one assist.
But Maryland's defense was predicated on containing the Blue Jays' starting midfield of juniors John Ranagan and John Greeley and sophomore Rob Guida. Greeley registered three assists, but Ranagan and Guida scored just a goal each.
"Great players," Terps junior long-stick midfielder Jesse Bernhardt said of the first midfield. "They'll put the ball in the back of the net. To be able to slide to them, get the ball out of their sticks, maybe make some of those other guys to have to work a little bit harder and not give them the looks that they wanted, I think that really helped us."
Coach John Tillman concurred immediately, adding, "We've been our best when we have slid this year, and when we've struggled, we have not slid and then recovered and matched up well. … Jess emphasized all along that we need to get better at that and that's who we are. And if you do that, you're going to make it a lot harder on the [offenses]."
Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said as the game unfolded, it became obvious Maryland's close defensemen weren't straying from their defensive assignments with the attack. So that opened the door to initiate from the midfield, but the offense couldn't gain much ground.
"When that happens, you've got to play through the midfield," he said. "Our primary dodgers have been at the midfield, so our attack's got to do a little better job there. We missed some opportunities, but that's part of the game. We can't make excuses. I just think we have to be a little less cute and a little bit more fundamental."
*The Terps (7-3) won despite possessing the ball less than an estimated three minutes in the second quarter. Tillman said the offense had the ball for just three settled possessions in that period. Trailing 6-3 early in the third quarter, the offense was walking a fine line between being patient with their shots and taking advantage of their limited opportunities. "That's the challenge when the other team is dominating time of possession," said junior attackman Owen Blye, who led all scorers with four goals. "The longer they have it, you can't score while they have it. … It's tough. You want to give your defense a break, but at the same time, you're down and you need to score goals. So I think we did a great job of taking good quality shots when we did have the ball and getting good possessions."
*Maryland's depth played a role in Saturday's outcome. Sophomore defenseman Emmett Cahill intercepted a lazy pass from Johns Hopkins senior attackman Chris Boland that helped kill a 60-second man-up chance for the Blue Jays in the fourth quarter, and redshirt freshman long-stick midfielder Taylor Morgan and sophomore short-stick defensive midfielder Greg D'Arienzo contributed to the victory. "I think we kept fighting," Bernhardt said. "And especially when we see guys that people may never have heard of – guys like Greg D'Arienzo and Taylor Morgan. Emmet Cahill comes in and makes a huge play for us. When we see guys like that get on the field and make plays, that just gets us going. I think a lot of guys stepped up and got a lot of other guys on the bench really going."
*Saturday was almost the one-year anniversary of the death of Maria Young, the mother of former Terps attackman