By: Cody Wilcox
Johns Hopkins attackman Joey Epstein received a pass from Forry Smith and sent a shot to the back of the net, growing the Blue Jay’s lead to four late in the fourth quarter.
Immediately the freshman got down on one knee and celebrated by shooting a fake bow-and-arrow into the Saturday night sky. Epstein, making his first appearance in the historic rivalry, made a lasting impact against Maryland with four points and two assists en route of Johns Hopkins 16-11 victory over its rivaled Terps.
“I felt like we put our defense in a really tough spot at time, especially after the first quarter,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said. “I thought like after the first 10 minutes there, we had good possession and good flow. And then after that, whether it was not winning faceoffs, failing to clear, or missing a grounder, and having short possessions, we just put a lot of pressure on them.”
After jumping out to an 5-1 lead in the first quarter, Maryland gave up a total of 16 goals, the most they have given up since 2013, in front of their home crowd of 12,405.
But the Terps struggles began at the faceoff X, where they finished 14-31. Johns Hopkins started Kyle Prouty at the faceoff position, but after struggles, turned to Matt Narewski about midway through the first quarter. Narewski, who went 16-26 from the faceoff dot, gave the Blue Jays the possessions that they needed to erase their first quarter deficit.
After scoring two unanswered goals to close the first quarter, Johns Hopkins scored six goals in the second quarter to take a 9-6 lead into halftime. With the Blue Jays’ ability to secure the possessions and convert on their opportunities, Maryland’s defense had little time to rest and reset before going against players like Epstein.
“First quarter we kind of came out on offense and were feeling it,” midfielder Bubba Fairman said. “It didn’t come as easy in the second quarter, and I think that put more pressure on [the defense].”
Epstein led the way for Johns Hopkins with four goals and two assists. Attackman Cole Williams contributed three goals and one assist, and midfielder Forry Smith scored two goals and added two assists.
Maryland’s offense, after starting off hot with two goals each from midfielder Bubba Fairman and attackman Jared Bernhardt, went cold following its five-goal first quarter.
With the Terps overthrowing teammates and unable to convert on opportunities that they usually capitalize on, Maryland finished with an uncharacteristically low 21 shots, by far their season-low.
“I thought we did a good job defensively. I think they helped us with some turnovers that are uncharacteristic of them,” Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. “I’m sure we won’t see those on Thursday. But a good solid job by our defense in a game they needed to stand tall.”
In the third quarter, after an early goal from Fairman — who finished with a career-high five goals — the Terps went 13 minutes scoreless until Russell Masci’s goal at the 1:46 mark. During that period of time, Maryland’s defense was unable to put together stops as the Blue Jays converted three-consecutive goals.
Following the torrid first quarter, Maryland scored just six more times. Due to their offensive struggles, the team lined up along the 40-yard line and witnessed Johns Hopkins be rewarded with the crab-shaped rivalry trophy.
However, Maryland will have an opportunity to get a second shot against the Blue Jays when the two teams match up on Thursday in the Big Ten tournament.
“[Tonight] is going to be a really good learning point for us. Just lucky that it isn’t the end of our season, and we can keep battling,” senior defenseman Curtis Corley said. “To get that second shot at them… we’ll be ready.”