Depth Leads Red-Hot Blue Jays to Win Over Rutgers


Ryan Evans scored two goals for the third time in the last four games as Johns Hopkins won its fifth straight game and improved to 2-0 in the Big Ten.

BALTIMORE — Johns Hopkins has had the number of plenty of other teams this season.

Saturday against Rutgers, the Blue Jays could thank their numbers for their success.

Jacob Angelus had two goals and three assists while all three second-line midfielders and a short stick defensive midfielder delivered multi-goal games as Hopkins earned a 16-12 victory before 2,563 at Homewood Field.

The Blue Jays (9-3, 2-0 Big Ten) have won five in a row for the first time since a seven-game winning streak in 2018.

“I think throughout the whole fall, we had guys we knew who could play all over,” Angelus said. “Obviously, we had freshmen coming in and two guys [Matt Collison and Brooks English] that play a lot and had to get used to everything. As the season progresses, everyone starts to figure out what they can contribute to our team and to our offense.”

Eleven Hopkins players scored Saturday and 14 recorded a point against the Scarlet Knights (7-3, 0-2), who erased an early four-goal deficit to take a 10-8 lead before fading in the fourth quarter. Justin Kim and Shane Knobloch both scored twice for Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights did a commendable job against Hopkins’ knowns besides Angelus, who has emerged as one of Division I’s best table-setters as a senior. The Blue Jays had five players who entered with at least 10 goals; they combined for four goals and two assists.

But that didn’t account for Ryan Evans and Casey McDermott both scoring twice, or English finding the net for the first time — and the second — in four career games. Short stick Brett Martin scored twice, including into an empty net to beat a 10-man ride with 56 seconds remaining to ice the game.

“I think everybody’s bought into being a selfless teammate and [making] sure we all embrace our roles,” Hopkins coach Peter Milliman said. “We want to have the best role players in the country. We want to be the best role players we possibly can and it shows in games like this. It doesn’t matter what your opportunities look like and what your label of your position that you start the game with.”

In a way, Hopkins is now using early-season discontinuity to its advantage. Both Angelus and Russell Melendez missed a Feb. 18 loss at Loyola when the Blue Jays’ offense was painfully plodding, and fellow attackman Garrett Degnon sat out against Utah the following week.

Yet that also provided first-year offensive coordinator John Crawley the chance to tinker with Hopkins’ available options. Evans has three multi-goal performances in the last four games. English is firmly in the mix after playing sparingly early in the season.

And there is also positional versatility, which was on display at times Saturday, as Hopkins posted a season high in goals.

“When guys go down, we know there are other guys who can play,” Angelus said. “When guys get a break at attack, we know those guys can come down and midfields can switch and we all play with each other during practice. I just think it’s a testament to what we’ve done throughout the whole fall and early spring, and it’s really paying off for us right now.”

Beyond its depth, Hopkins also looked far more capable of manufacturing goals in several ways than it did earlier in the season. On the surface, there is a bit of tempting fate when a team gets into a track meet with a Rutgers team which has long been fond of pushing the tempo.

But some opportunistic transition is a welcome improvement for the Blue Jays.

“It’s one of those areas where I think a few weeks ago, it was maybe a weakness and we’re just trying to get better at it,” Milliman said. “There were some times today I don’t think we were great at it, but there were some times today that it really elevated us.”

It was hardly just the offense that did fine work in a game that really felt like it was two different contests. Defense was often nonexistent in a frantic first quarter that saw the Blue Jays hold a 7-5 edge. Rutgers goalie Kyle Mullin was pulled after 15 minutes without making a save, and backup Anthony Palma (nine saves) fared better over the final three quarters.

Of course, the pace became much more friendly for the defenses after the opening period. Junior defenseman Scott V. Smith, who scored a pole goal off a faceoff in the first quarter, did excellent work on Rutgers star Ross Scott. A week after getting blanked at Ohio State, Scott charged past Smith 15 seconds into the game — then didn’t manage another point the rest of the way.

“I thought they did a good job with keeping him in check and bottling him up a little bit,” Brecht said.

While Hopkins stacked another victory as it seeks its first NCAA tournament berth since 2019, Rutgers suddenly has less margin for error the rest of the way. The Scarlet Knights, who reached the NCAA semifinals for the first time last year, return home to play Michigan and Maryland the next two weeks before closing the regular season at Penn State on April 21.

There was one welcome development Saturday for Rutgers: The return of attackman Brian Cameron from injury after a two-game absence. Cameron played on the Scarlet Knights’ extra-man unit against Hopkins, and his full-time return would surely bolster an offense that has been uncharacteristically quiet at times early in league play.

“We’re hoping to get healthy as we move along, and we have great opportunities,” Brecht said. “That’s why you’re playing in the Big Ten. Every game matters. Whether it’s last week, this week, next week, the end of the month. I do think you take care of business and win in April, you play in May.”


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