Homefield advantage is not what it used to be in the rivalry between the Johns Hopkins and Princeton men's lacrosse teams.
The No. 5 Blue Jays dropped an 11-8 decision to the No. 14 Tigers before an announced 2,352 at Homewood Field on Friday night. Neither side has won a game in this series at home since 2004.
When Johns Hopkins reviews this latest setback, the Blue Jays won't like what they see. Careless turnovers and porous defense in the fourth quarter contributed to the loss -- two factors that won't please coach Dave Pietramala.
Trailing, 8-7, at the end of the third quarter, the Blue Jays committed six turnovers in the final period -- with at least four occurring in the offensive zone. Princeton took advantage by outscoring Johns Hopkins, 3-1.
"I think we're going to look at the film, and we're going to be frustrated," Johns Hopkins senior defenseman Tucker Durkin said. "We prepared for a lot of the plays that they had, and we didn't execute on defense. We've just got to do a better job."
All week, the Blue Jays coaching staff had emphasized to the defense about concentrating on the Tigers' key players -- junior midfielder Tom Schreiber, senior attackman Jeff Froccaro, sophomore attackman Mike MacDonald and freshman attackman Ryan Ambler.
Ambler, who recorded one goal and three assists in Princeton's season-opening 10-7 win against Hofstra last Saturday, was limited to just a single assist. But Froccaro finished with three goals and one assist, while Schreiber had three goals and MacDonald added two goals.
"Those were the guys that we felt like we really had to control in this game ," Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. "That's a big part of the storyline right there."
Just 71 seconds into the final period, the Tigers extended their lead to two when Schreiber sent a rocket past Johns Hopkins senior goalkeeper Pierce Bassett from the right point about 15 yards out.
With 8:13 remaining, MacDonald curled around the right post and bounced the ball past Bassett.
Blue Jays junior attackman Brandon Benn scored with 7:37 left after he took a pass at the left wing from senior midfielder Lee Coppersmith (three assists after having zero in his first three seasons) and slung the ball into the right side of the net for his fourth goal of the game.
But after Benn dropped a pass from Coppersmith inside the box, Princeton junior defenseman Derick Raabe scooped up the ground ball and found senior short-stick defensive midfielder Chris White running through the middle of the field. White collected the pass from Raabe, and when no Johns Hopkins defensive player stepped toward White, he bounced a shot from about 12 yards past Bassett with 5:40 remaining.
The Blue Jays' normally sure-handed offensive players were guilty of several costly turnovers. Sophomore attackman Wells Stanwick -- who did not play in last Saturday's 17-8 rout of Michigan after violating an unspecified team rule -- committed a game-high four turnovers, and Benn lost the ball three times.
"We were getting anxious," Benn said of the offense's struggles in the fourth quarter. "We saw the score. We were only down by two with 9 minutes left and then they got one with 8. We seemed to get tight. We were just playing out the score too much, not realizing how much time we had. We just played tight, and it didn't work to our advantage."
The Tigers improved to 2-0, and despite having just six seniors on their roster, they may have sent a message about the precociousness of their youth.
"I would say I'm pleasantly surprised," Princeton coach Chris Bates said. "We played 60 minutes, and Hopkins is a heck of a team, and they're going to have a very good year. So I'm impressed with this win for our guys. I thought we stepped up at both ends of the field and managed the game well. We bent at a few junctures in the game, but we came back and made big plays."
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