The Hopkins men’s lacrosse team got back on track this weekend as they edged #1 and previously undefeated Loyola University 10-9 in overtime. Sophomore Rob Guida was the driving force behind the Jays handing their Charles Street rivals. He not only netted the first goal of the game, but also the last, decisive tally en route to his first career hat trick, earning him The News-Letter’s Athlete of the Week.
The Blue Jays hit a rough patch in the thick of their schedule, dropping two straight and three of their last four games after topping the University of Virginia, also then #1 and undefeated, and taking the top spot in the nation. Playing the hottest team in the country is generally not a recipe for righting the ship and getting back to winning ways, but Guida proved to be the catalyst the Jays needed to build momentum with only a Homecoming game against Army remaining on the schedule before the NCAA tournament.
After Guida’s first goal of the game on an unassisted shot, the Jays raced out to a 5-0 advantage only to see the Greyhounds come back and muster three goals before the half to make it 6-3. Guida scored his second goal off a feed from red-shirt senior Chris Boland with 14 minutes left in the final quarter to put the Blue Jays up 9-5, an advantage that seemed likely to hold. However, the Greyhounds came back with a vengeance, notching four goals in the last 12:34 of the game including the game-tying goal scored by Justin Ward with just five seconds remaining in regulation play. The first overtime period seemed as if it would go scoreless until Guida took a quick pass right out in front from junior Zach Palmer and wasted no time putting the ball through the five-hole of the Greyhound goalie, stunning the sold out crowd and sending Blue Jay Nation into a frenzy.
Guida, from Chatham High School in Chatham, NJ, has been a mainstay on the Blue Jay midfield all season long. He is third on the team in goals scored with 16, third in total points with 23, and fourth in assists with seven. He is known for having one of the best pairs of hands in the country, and he excels when the Blue Jays are playing with a man-up, leading the team in goals in those situations with five to his credit.
Guida took some time away from preparing for final exams and practicing for the Homecoming game to answer some questions for The News-Letter.
The News-Letter (N-L): What was it like facing a team that was undefeated and ranked number one on the road for the second time this season?
Rob Guida (RG): It was very exciting and a privilege to face two #1 ranked teams in one season. With a similar scenario as Virginia when we played them on the road and they were undefeated at the time, and knowing even before the game that it was sold out, it was a cool feeling.
N-L: What was the team morale like after Loyola came back from 9-5 to tie it and send it into overtime?
RG: The team morale definitely took a hit after Loyola came back, but it has been a focus of ours in practice to handle these types of situations and have a collected attitude and not let the situation get the better of us. At the same time, we were still confident we could pull it off [because] we had been there before.
N-L: I've seen the video of your game winning goal, but take me through what you were thinking as the play unfolded.
RG: I saw time winding down in OT and the offense was trying to get as many shots on net as possible before time expired. I had been playing on the crease for some time with Brandon Benn just trying to get open. John Ranagan took a shot and deflected right to Zach Palmer. Luckily I was able to free myself from my defender for just a split second, Palmer made an incredible pass and I was able to quick stick it into the goal.
N-L: What, if anything, was Loyola doing defensively that allowed you to net your first collegiate hat trick?
RG: Loyola does not slide a lot on defense, so if you were able to beat your man, you had a good chance of getting a shot on goal. Coach Benson, our offensive coordinator, knew this and put in specific plays for the week. Luckily I was able to get free and score.
N-L: What do you guys, as a team, have to do looking forward to this weekend against Army and then on into the post season as I'm sure you guys are hoping for another national championship?
RG: We need to have another good week of practice. We have seen that if we work hard all week and outwork our opponent, we put ourselves in the best possible scenario to win a game. We know Army will give us everything they have, so we must continue to build off this win and carry it with us against Army, and on from there.