The Hopkins men’s lacrosse team powered their way to a win on the opening day of the season this past Saturday. The Jays rode a dominant 9-1 run to finish the game with a 15-7 victory over their local rivals from Towson University.
Hopkins, who came into the season ranked No. 13 in the country, were able to wear down the No. 17-ranked Tigers. It was a close game for the whole first half and even much of the second, but in the end the Blue Jays’ offense couldn’t be contained.
Hopkins started out the game strong, taking an early 5-1 lead by the end of the first quarter. The impressive start was powered by senior attackman Cole Williams, who scored two goals to help establish that initial lead.
Freshman attackman Owen Murphy, scoring his first career goal for the Jays, and sophomore midfielder Evan Zinn also made their marks in the Jays’ opening offensive push. Towson’s defender Koby Smith was the only Tiger to score in a Hopkins dominated first quarter.
The Jays’ domination would falter, though. Their offense began to struggle in the second quarter, hardly holding any serious time of possession and letting the Tigers go on a 3-1 scoring run to get within two goals. Towson’s zone defense gave the Jays trouble as they struggled to find openings and only managed three shots on goal.
Thanks to a tremendous performance from the Hopkins goalie, junior Ryan Darby, the game stayed close. At the end of a disappointing quarter, Hopkins was tenuously holding on to a 6-4 lead.
It seemed like it was all falling apart for the Jays at the beginning of the second half, when two rapid-fire goals for the Tigers brought them level just 66 seconds after play had resumed. Hopkins had only managed a single goal in the second quarter, and the momentum seemed to be fully in favor of Towson. That was when everything changed, though.
Hopkins turned it on after the slow second quarter and never relaxed their grip on the game again. The tie lasted just 48 seconds before junior midfielder Connor Desimone converted a clever pass from Murphy to take a 7-6 lead. Desimone doubled the Jays’ advantage four minutes later after getting past a Towson defender on the goal line and sneaking the ball past Tiger’s goalie Tyler Canto from the side.
Desimone would add yet another goal to extend the Jays’ advantage, and a goal by sophomore midfielder Garrett Degnon gave Hopkins a 10-6 lead. The 4-0 run was a dominant showing by the Hopkins offense, and it seemed like Towson might be out for the count.
Towson pushed back, shortening the lead to just three goals from an extra-man situation and making the score 10-7 with 18 seconds left in the third quarter. It seemed like the Tigers might have gotten some momentum going into the last quarter of the game, but sophomore face-off specialist Matt Narewski won the ensuing face-off and went on to score a beautiful goal with the help of senior midfielder Forry Smith to restore the four-point advantage to the Jays going into the fourth.
Towson never recovered from that blow, going goalless in the fourth quarter. The Jays’ defense, which the media had criticized during the preseason, held the Tigers to just three goals in the entire second half in a masterclass performance.
Williams talked to hopkinssports.com after the game about how he felt starting the season off with a win.
“It’s a big, big, big thing for us. Something we lacked last year was getting off to a good start,“ he said. “We’re young on offense... so building that lead early, instilling that confidence in them, we’re able to do it. We’re able to score goals and score often. That early start was huge.”
In the fourth quarter, the Blue Jays would go on to score four more times, sealing the victory with goals by Smith, Williams, Degnon and Zinn.
The win was also supported by an impressive performance at the face-off circle from Hopkins, who won 20 compared to Towson’s six. This was powered by junior face-off specialist Kyle Prouty, who went 14 for 19, and Narewski, who was 6 for 7.
Hopkins goes on the road to take on another another local rival, Loyola University Maryland, on Saturday Feb. 15. Face-off against the Greyhounds is set for 3:30 p.m.