Facing 'Goliath' Maryland on Thursday, Johns Hopkins Looks to Make it Ugly

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER


There couldn’t have been a more sobering ending to Johns Hopkins’ regular season: The most lopsided loss in program history.

Likewise, there couldn’t have been a more encouraging response for the Blue Jays to open Big Ten tournament play, a 16-8 rout of Penn State on Saturday.

“I wouldn’t say it was too easy to flush,” attackman Joey Epstein said. “That’s our biggest rival and losing a game is emotional and takes a lot out of you. But I think our seniors, grad students and every leader on this team did a good job [last] week regrouping and refocusing and remembering that this game, no matter what, was our last game on Homewood, win or lose.”

Hopkins (7-8) showed very different versions of itself the last two Saturdays in Baltimore. There was the team that outshot Penn State 31-9 in the first half and seemed in firm control even when it led by just a goal after a quarter.

And then there’s the bunch that lost 22-7 to Big Ten regular season champion Maryland (12-0), which happens to be who awaits the Blue Jays in Thursday’s quarterfinal in College Park.

“We’re always going to be excited to play our rivals,” coach Peter Milliman said. “We know last week wasn’t a great version of us. It wasn’t a great representation of how we want to play and what we can do, and against a very good team, it didn’t go well. But I think the biggest takeaway was we knew it wasn’t us.”

Maryland obviously had something to do with Hopkins’ miserable regular-season finale, and facing a Penn State team straggling to the end of a 3-11 slog of a spring meant there was more margin for error than a week earlier.

Still, there was a lot to like about the Blue Jays’ bounceback. Ten players scored, goalie Josh Kirson made 14 saves and Matt Narewski won 11 of 17 faceoffs.

It added up to Hopkins’ most lopsided victory since bouncing Penn State from last year’s Big Ten tournament 15-7.

“It wasn’t the cleanest we’ve played, but it was probably the most consistent and tough that we’ve played all season,” Milliman said. “I was happy with that. There weren’t any significant lulls.”







There probably can’t be any lulls Thursday night against Maryland, which has won 29 of its last 30 games dating back to 2020 and has claimed its last 17 games against Big Ten opponents.

Four of those have come against the Blue Jays, matching the Terps’ longest winning streak in the 123-game series. Maryland won four in a row from 1935-38, 1953-56, 1961-64 and 2015-18, only for Hopkins to halt each streak.

Doing so again would be one of the most riveting — and arguably surprising — chapters in a long-running rivalry littered with them.

“They’re Goliath,” said Epstein, who scored his 100th career goal Saturday. “I’m going to be honest. Everyone knows that, and they showed that when we played them here, and it definitely left a bitter taste in our mouth. We’re going to have to have an unbelievable week of practice, preparation, belief. They’re an unbelievable group — incredibly well-coached, incredibly disciplined. The way they play lacrosse, it’s fun to watch.”

At that point, Epstein was reminded it probably isn’t much fun for those on the field facing the Terps.

“Well,” he said, “We’re going to have to do our best to make it ugly to watch.”

NUMBERS OF NOTE

5

No. 1 seeds in this week’s conference tournaments that have never earned an NCAA tournament berth. The group includes Boston University (Patriot), Jacksonville (Southern), St. Bonaventure (Metro Atlantic), Saint Joseph’s (Northeast) and Utah (Atlantic Sun).

10

Losses for Syracuse in 2022, a single-season school record. The Orange fell to 4-10 with Sunday’s 18-11 loss to Notre Dame, breaking a tie with the 1974 team (2-9) for the most defeats in program history.

Losses for Penn State this season, tying a program record first established in 2010. The injury-plagued Nittany Lions closed out a 3-11 season Saturday with a 16-8 loss at Johns Hopkins in the Big Ten quarterfinals. Penn State had only three players — attackman Mac Costin, defenseman Kevin Parnham and midfielder Dan Reaume — start all 14 games this season.

86

Points for Army’s Brendan Nichtern this season, a single-season record for the Black Knights. The senior had two goals and eight assists in Friday’s 15-14 victory at Boston University to inch past the Army record of 85 set by Tom Cafaro in 1971. Nichtern’s last assist was his 51st of the year, breaking his own school record of 50 established in 2019.

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