Blue Hens' amazing run ends; Hopkins to face Duke in final

Posted: May 27, 2007

BALTIMORE - Finally, Delaware was free of the sticky defenders from Johns Hopkins - but only because the Blue Hens were milling dejectedly inside their locker room after their unlikely joyride to the NCAA lacrosse final four had come to an end.

For Delaware (13-6), the lone unseeded team in the semifinals, it was death by strangulation. Hopkins (12-4), the No. 3 seed, held the Blue Hens to the fewest goals ever in an NCAA semifinal with an 8-3 victory yesterday before a record crowd of 52,004 at M&T Bank Stadium. It was also the lowest-scoring semifinal ever.

Afterward, Delaware's Brett Manney, a junior midfielder from Newtown who attended Holy Ghost Prep and knows a thing or two about defense, neatly summed up Hopkins' suffocating style of play.

"If you beat one guy, it seemed like there was another guy there to step up," Manney said after Stephen Peyser and freshman Michael Kimmel each scored three goals for Johns Hopkins. "Every shot we took was contested. . . . And their goalie [Jesse Schwartzman] made some good saves."

The win sends the Blue Jays into tomorrow's championship game for the 17th time. They will attempt to win their ninth NCAA title against top-seeded Duke, which held off a furious Cornell rally to win, 12-11, in the other semifinal.

The second game was a thriller as Duke (17-2) had a 10-3 lead until Cornell (15-1) began a remarkable comeback, eventually pulling even at 11-11 on Brian Clayton's goal with 17 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

But Zack Greer, who scored four goals, beat goalie Matt McMonagle with three seconds to go for the game-winner. Greer has an Atlantic Coast Conference-record 67 goals this season.

McMonagle, a senior who graduated from Episcopal Academy and was named Ivy League player of the year, overcame a shaky first half to foster the comeback.

"I just wanted to get our offense the ball, and I was able to do that [in the fourth quarter]," McMonagle said. "Unfortunately, they won the last possession and got the last shot."

By the time the Delaware players boarded their bus for the 50-mile ride back to their Newark campus to disperse for the summer, the disappointment of falling one win short of playing for it all was slowly being replaced by the thrill of the journey.

A season that began with promise seemed on the brink of disaster when the Blue Hens, riddled by injuries, went through a monthlong skid that saw them go 1-5. They barely squeaked into the league playoffs yet won Colonial Athletic Association tourney games at Drexel and Towson for the automatic bid to the NCAA. Then in the quarterfinals, they stunned defending national champion Virginia, 14-8, in Charlottesville. By the time Delaware got to the semis, it had seven straight wins, six away from home.

"All the adversity we overcame with the injuries and sickness showed how tough this team was," Manney said.

The tightly played game got away from Delaware in the final minute of the third quarter, when Tom Duerr and Kimmel scored 42 seconds apart to give the Blue Jays a 5-2 lead. The two quick goals stole momentum from the Blue Hens, who had just gotten a goal from J.J. Moran and a big save by goalie Tommy Scherr while Johns Hopkins had a man advantage.

"It's really hard when a team scores goals with time running out in a quarter, and I think that took a little steam out of us," Manney said.

Vince Giordano, a junior attackman who graduated from Moorestown High School, said the Blue Hens may have been worn down by Johns Hopkins' defense.

"I think our attack got a little tired in the second half because we were holding the ball for a long while," Giordano said.


Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo

at 215-854-2743 or rparrillo@phillynews.com.

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