Johns Hopkins banished Navy as a serious contender for the national lacrosse championship yesterday by destroying the Mids, 22-11.
The Bluejay's Mike O'Neill, the nation's best attackman a year ago, rolled up four goals and five assists, prompting Hopkins Coach Henry Cicarone to say, "That was one of the best games I've seen an attackman play."
O'Neill, from behind the net, cut between two Navy defenders and leaped to score before crashing into the crease early in the their period. The play ignited a stretch of seven straight goals that put the game away, 18-7.
O'Neill never stopped hustling. In the final period with the outcome assured, he dove to save a ball near the sideline.
He tumbled out of bounds but set up a score by Dave Huntley in the process.
Brendan Schneck collected five goals for Navy. One came on a remarkable over-the-shoulder shot without looking at the net, while sandwiched between Hopkins defensemen. That scored late in the first period cut Hopkins' advantage to 4-3, after a 4-0 cakewalk, but the Mids were never able to pull even.
The Bluejays, leading 6-5, scored four goals within one minute 47 seconds late in the second period, outdistancing the loaders of Hopkins' ceremonial cannong. O'Neill and pals were breaking free so often that on one occasion Navy goalie Jeff Johnson, anticipating a pass, came out to check an attackman and allowed midfielder Ned Radebaugh to score into an empty net.
Hopkins' goalie Mike Federico made 19 saves, 10 before Navy scored a goal. After the Bluejays connected on three of their first four shots, Navy dominated play for five minutes. The Mids took 12 shots, nine of goal but Federico stopped every one. O'Neill made it 4-0 before Navy finally broke through Mike Hannan scored on a breakaway as the short-handed Mids were welcoming two men back from the penalty box.
While Hopkins' passing dazzled the crowd of 6,352, Navy's midfield and attack acted like strangers. Mike Chanenchuk's two goals were the only scoring contribution from the midfielders, who had not assists. Hopkins so scorned Navy's fast-break potential in the second half that it sent waves of three and four players at the Navy ball carrier.
As a result, the Mids had great difficulty clearing, although Ciccarone said, "That wasn't our planned ride. We had stressed not givig them the fast break."
Hopkins is 9-1, with No. 2 ranking for the NCAA tournament assured. Navy (8-2) cannot count on the homefield advantage guaranteed the top four seeds - if, indeed, after yesterday, there is such an advantage.