CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- On a day when he tied legendary coach Bob Scott’s record for career coaching wins at Johns Hopkins, head coach Dave Pietramala acknowledged in the post-game press conference after Sunday’s 14-8 Blue Jay victory against Virginia in the first round of the NCAA tournament that the start of the game wasn’t surprising. A two-goal spurt by the Cavaliers to open the game – a surge that saw the Cavaliers fire off shot after shot against the Blue Jays – was followed by a Pietramala-called timeout.
When asked what he said in the timeout, he responded with a simple response: “Relax.”
It was less than a minute later when senior Brandon Benn intercepted a Matt Barrett outlet pass at midfield and fired one home from 35 yards. After the hot start by the Cavaliers, it was just what the Blue Jays needed, and they capitalized on the deep breath they were able to take after Benn’s goal – and proceeded to score seven more before Virginia would score again.
By then, Hopkins had scored on half of the 16 shots it had fired on Barrett, including three by Benn and two by junior Wells Stanwick, to open an 8-2 lead midway through the second quarter.
For all the talk about the quick-strike Virginia offense, it was Hopkins that scored in bunches to craft what eventually became a 9-5 halftime lead.
The early two-goal deficit was a distant memory after Benn’s goal was followed by a nice finish inside by Ryan Brown, a nifty finish by senior Kevin Interlicchio and the first of Stanwick’s career-high-tying five goals before the end of the first quarter.
The 4-2 Blue Jay lead swelled to 8-2 in less than seven minutes of the second quarter. Two more strikes by Benn, the second career goal by senior Jack Reilly and another by Stanwick accounted for the final four goals in the 8-0 run, which gave Johns Hopkins the stunning six-goal lead.
Virginia, a team known for making runs of its own, had the six-goal lead trimmed to four in a span of seven seconds as a Ryan Tucker laser at the 6:59 mark of the second quarter was followed by a Joe Lisicky goal off the ensuing faceoff to make it 8-4.
A Connor Reed goal off an ally dodge was matched by a Pat Harbeson strike in the final 4:28 of the first half to account for the 9-5 Blue Jay lead at the half.
As they did in the first half, the Cavaliers came out firing in the third quarter and it was 9:31 into the period when what was once a six-goal lead was down to one. An Owen Van Arsdale goal from the wing less than five minutes into the half was followed by Zed Williams and Tyler German tallies midway though the period to make it a 9-8 game with more than 20 minutes remaining in the game.
The next goal, either a Virginia tally to knot the game or a Blue Jay strike to stem the tide, would be crucial. As it turned out, the more than 2,000 fans in attendance didn’t have to wait long, just 11 seconds, to see who would get that crucial goal.
Senior Rob Guida scooped up the ground ball off the faceoff following German’s goal and sprinted into the offensive end, where he found Stanwick all alone 12 yards out to Barrett’s right. Stanwick didn’t hesitate when he took Guida’s feed and blew one home. The most important goal of the game belonged to Johns Hopkins.
Stanwick’s goal ignited what eventually became a 5-0 game-ending run for Johns Hopkins. Benn completed his four-goal day when he got just enough separation in the high slot and polished off a long possession at the 10:52 mark. When Holden Cattoni ripped a shot past Barrett from the wing at the 7:05 mark, the Cavaliers were down 12-8 and were forced to chase. Stanwick made them pay – twice – down the stretch with his fourth and fifth goals to seal Hopkins’ largest margin of victory at Virginia since 1984 (16-9).
Stanwick matched his career-high and the Johns Hopkins record for most goals in a first round game with his five, while he, Benn and Brown – Johns Hopkins’ starting attack – combined for 10 goals and one assist. Conversely, the Blue Jay defense held Virginia’s starting attack unit to three goals and three assists and its first midfield to just one goal on 18 shots. Half of the six points accumulated by UVA’s starting attack came before the game was five minutes old.
The Johns Hopkins defense was paced by Schneider’s 12 saves, five of which came in the first quarter and four in the fourth. He backboned a unit that held the Cavaliers scoreless for more than 18 minutes at one point in the first half and more than 20 minutes to close the game.
Helping the Blue Jays go on those extended runs was senior Drew Kennedy, who went 14-of-26 on faceoffs and grabbed 10 ground balls for Johns Hopkins.
Cockerton (2g, 1a) and Van Arsdale (1g, 2a) were the only multi-point producers for Virginia, which got 10 saves from Barrett and a 12-for-25 effort on faceoffs from Mick Parks.
The win was the 158th for Pietramala as the head coach at Johns Hopkins. That matches Scott’s record, which was accumulated from 1955-74 and had stood unchallenged for 40 years.
Johns Hopkins will take on defending national champion Duke in the quarterfinals next Sunday at Delaware. The Blue Devils topped Air Force 20-9 this afternoon.