April 22, 2009
TOWSON, MD - It seemed like a simple thing. Johns Hopkins junior Michael Kimmel picked up a ball that went out of bounds on the side and prepared to restart with 7.2 seconds remaining in the second overtime of Wednesday night's game at Towson. Before the restart, senior midfielder Brian Christopher came and took the ball from him and needed just six of those 7.2 seconds to net his third goal of the game and second career overtime game-winner as he dodged to the middle of the field, spun inside his defender and bounced a tricky shot inside the near post to lift the Blue Jays to an 11-10 victory before a crowd of 3,509 at Unitas Stadium.
In winning a game they never led while the clock was moving, the Blue Jays improved to 7-4 and ran their winning streak to four games overall and 14 games against the Tigers. Towson slips to 6-8 with the loss.
Towson controlled the tempo from the outset, led by as many as four and carried a 9-6 lead into the fourth quarter before the Blue Jays rallied. Hopkins had trailed by scores of 7-3 and 8-4 in the third quarter before back-to-back goals by Chris Boland and Kyle Wharton sliced the deficit to 8-6 with still more than four minutes remaining in the third period.
Towson got what appeared was a crushing goal with 2.8 seconds remaining in the third quarter when Matt Lamon found Justin Schneider with a cross-field pass from the top of the box to the back-door for any easy goal in tight. But after scoring nine goals on 26 shots in the first 45 minutes, the Tigers would find the net just once on 15 shots in the final 23 minutes.
Senior Mark Bryan started the Blue Jay comeback as he worked a nifty face-dodge 10 yards from the goal and beat Towson goalie Rob Wheeler from six yards out to make it 9-7.
The Tigers efficiently worked their offense over the next eight minutes and Hopkins failed to convert twice after forcing turnovers - once on a failed clear and again when Wheeler stopped Andrew Miller on a breakaway. But for all of their possession time, the Tigers couldn't regain the three-goal lead.
Hopkins finally drew within one for the first time since late in the second quarter when senior Josh Peck one-timed a pass to the crease from Steven Boyle for an extra-man goal with 5:02 remaining. Kimmel forced the first tie of the game 70 seconds later when he scored from a tough angle on an ally dodge, but the tie was short-lived as Bill McCutcheon got free in a scramble situation after a save by Michael Gvozden and blew a shot home just 32 seconds after Kimmel's tally.
Christopher scored what would prove to be the overtime-forcing goal with 2:12 remaining as he swept across the top of the box and cut to the inside before beating Wheeler from 10 yards with a high-to-low shot on the run.
Both teams had possession in the final two minutes, but Gvozden intercepted a pass behind the goal and Kimmel's pass to the in front of the goal with just under 20 seconds remaining was batted down and time expired before either team could get off a shot.
Gvozden and Wheeler both came up with big saves in the first overtime - Gvozden's was of the kick-save variety just 40 seconds in and Wheeler stoned Boyle on the crease with 1:25 left. The Tigers cleared successfully after Wheeler's save, but turned the ball over in the final seconds before getting off another shot.
A frantic second overtime, which featured nine combined shots, five combined saves and a failed extra-man opportunity by the Blue Jays (Peck hit the post from two yards out) came down to Gvozden and Christopher.
Gvozden came up with a big save with just over a minute to play, only to turn the ball over on the ensuing clear attempt. He went low 10 seconds later to take one away from Schneider and the Blue Jays came up with the loose ball and cleared the ball. After a timeout, Wharton backed up a shot that went wide and out of bounds on the sideline. Six seconds later Christopher had his third goal of the game, the Blue Jays had won their fourth straight and Hopkins had won a game it never led until the clock stopped for the final time with 1.2 ticks left in the second overtime.
The Tigers crafted a 5-3 halftime lead on the strength of goals by five different players. Tim Stratton and Lamon scored back-to-back goals in a span of less than a minute late in the second quarter, but Wharton scored off an assist from Kimmel with 26 seconds remaining in the opening half to account for the 5-3 halftime score.
When Randall Cooper and Pat Britton scored in the first seven minutes of the third quarter the Tigers had their 7-3 lead and when McCutcheon answered the first of Kimmel's two goals less than 90 seconds later it was 8-4. Boland and Wharton's goals quickly followed before Schneider's goal as the third quarter wound down.
31 shots, 11 saves from Gvozden and two Christopher goals later and the Blue Jays had come from four goals down to win for the first time since erasing a 7-1 deficit at Syracuse on March 18, 2005.