BALTIMORE, April 23 -- Kyle Harrison became just another name to the Navy men's lacrosse team Saturday, another symbol of all-too-close defeats in an all-too-lopsided rivalry.
The Johns Hopkins senior's goal 1 minute 37 seconds into overtime lifted the top-ranked Blue Jays to a 9-8 victory over No. 5 Navy at Homewood Field. With his goal, the litany of disappointment that has followed Navy against Hopkins through four decades of lacrosse continued, as the Midshipmen lost to the Blue Jays for the 31st straight time.
Saturday was supposed to be different for Navy. The Mids fought back from two- and three-goal deficits and held Hopkins's offense in check all day. But it was Harrison, considered by many to be the nation's top midfielder, who made the difference. He scored a career-high five goals on only six shots, including the tying score with 23 seconds left in regulation.
"Harrison is such a great, great player," said Navy Coach Richie Meade. "We defended him, I think, as well as we can. He's just one of those guys with great judgment and great skills."
The Midshipmen (9-3) controlled the clock for more than nine minutes during the fourth quarter and ended a deliberate possession of nearly five minutes with a goal by freshman Nick Mirabito in front of the net with 58 seconds left that gave Navy an 8-7 lead.
All Navy essentially needed to secure the victory was to win the ensuing faceoff. But the Blue Jays (10-0) won it, called timeout and set up a play for Harrison. He bobbed and weaved through the Navy defense, found a sliver of daylight and fired a left-handed shot past goalie Matt Russell left to tie the score at 8.
"We did a good job at the end of the game, we got the goal that put us ahead," Meade said. "We get the [next] faceoff, the game's probably over. So it's that close."
Navy had a chance to end it again in overtime, when Chris Pieczonka won the faceoff for the Midshipmen. But a shot by Navy's Steve Looney sailed wide, triggering a footrace to the sideline between Navy's Graham Gill and Hopkins's Brendan Skakandi. Officials ruled it Hopkins's ball and the Blue Jays capitalized on the next possession, as Greg Peyser set up Harrison by the left post for the winner.
"We've been down before," Harrison said. "We were down 7-1 against Syracuse at one point. No one was panicking."
The game drew striking parallels to Hopkins's 10-9 win last season, when Conor Ford capped a Blue Jays comeback by tying the score late in regulation and then scoring the winner with 3.8 seconds left in overtime. Only this time, it was Harrison delivering when his team needed him most.
"We rode him," Peyser said of Harrison. "I know [our] coach says that he doesn't want to ride him, but I think that Kyle has it. He's good enough to where we can."
Eight players scored for Navy in a wildly back-and-forth affair. Hopkins grabbed a 6-3 lead early in the third, but Navy struck back with a four-goal run that culminated with a Ben Horn goal with 5:04 left in the period, only five seconds after Tommy Wallin had tied it up.
"I've come to expect that our team is going to play very hard, and we created opportunities," Meade said.