May 30, 2005

@ Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia



PHILADELPHIA - Both teams entered Monday's NCAA Division 1 Lacrosse Championship feeling propelled by destiny. Hopkins had performed a miracle comeback over Virginia with 12 seconds left in one semi-final to preserve a perfect season. Duke had manhandled the Terps and avenged one loss from their season in the other semi and looked to settle the final score with Hopkins in the final. #1 Hopkins beat #2 Duke at Homewood in the regular season 11-10. Both teams had player of the year contenders at the helm in Kyle Harrison and Matt Danowski. Both teams had transfers from the other team in Kyle Dowd and Matt Rewkowski. Both teams had something to prove after underachieving recent histories (by their own standards), Duke never making a final after so many top recruiting classes and Hopkins not taking a crown since 1987 after dominating lacrosse for decades. Two very exciting and nearly flawless teams, two intense coaches and a final-game record crowd of 44 thousand sun baked fans would make Memorial Day weekend in Philadelphia a holiday to remember and a classic battle between the true great lacrosse giants of 2005. And there wasn't an orange jersey in sight. A new king would be crowned at the final whistle even though we joked before the game that Syracuse still had a remote chance to pull it out. (Note: 'Cuse fans posted even though their team wasn't in it. There were even Syracuse tents and tailgates. Great karma for next year!)

The game started on a goal by Blue Jays' freshman Paul Rabil which got the Hopkins-heavy crowd roaring, but only for a moment as Duke came back with three to take the lead into the first break on goals by Dowd, Danowski and Dan Flannery. A defensive second quarter finally gave way to a mini rally by Hopkins as they tied it back up on a Greg Peyser move and a Benson Erwin pass to freshman Kevin Huntley. But Duke would go ahead again as Matt Zash scored on a man-up and Bret Thompson beat tournament MVP Jesse Schwartzman. Harrison rifled one high-to-high, but it was answered by a Danowski to Flannery connection. Hopkins claimed the next two as Byrne hit Huntley for his second goal of the day and Harrison put another line drive over Aaron Fenton's right shoulder. Zash finished the half with an EMO tally and fans hit the souvenir stands with Duke holding a 7-6 lead.

T-Shirts and hats purchased, the pretzel and cheesesteak carrying crowd found themselves back in their seats watching Duke extend the lead on a sweet takeaway by Nick O'Hara which started a break ending with a Danowski quick stick right on top of Schwartzman. Duke 8, Hopkins 6.

The teams traded possessions for a while with Duke in no hurry but Hopkins still confident and deliberate in the hands of Harrison. The prodigal freshman, Rabil, would end the Blue Jay scoring draught and score again, unassisted, on a drive from the outside. Schwartzman held. Greg Peyser tied the game toward the third quarter's end, 5-holing a sweeping Fenton. Shwartzman kept stopping the Blue Devils when they could get off good shots against the Hopkins defense which had visibly intensified after the half.

Only one goal would be scored in the fourth quarter and it would win the game even with 13 minutes left to play. Jake Byrne, Saturday's semi-final hero, scored on an inside move and a perfect top-shelf bouncer past Duke's Fenton. Everyone expected more scoring to come but the tension, controlled ball handling and stellar defense would have to suffice. A double penalty leaving Duke in a two-man-down situation for the last minute of the game would seal it as Hopkins' Kyle Harrison and Kevin Huntley easily stalled with two extra.

Holding the mighty Duke offense to only one goal in the second half, Schwartzman was officially awarded the credit for the fourth quarter 1-0 Hopkins victory but the sophomore shared it generously with Matt Pinto, Chris Watson, Tom Garvey and the rest of the Hopkins' D at the post-game press conference.

Hopkins legendary defenseman Dave Pietramala had become the first and only, in the history of college lacrosse, to win an NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship as a player and then as a head coach, while at the same time returning days of glory to the Homewood faithful. But the pressure is back on. At the post game Hopkins party, the Hopkins band led the cheer as the fans and alumni counted 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 NCAA Championships followed by a Hopkins' supporter's favorite words, "We Want More"!

Jesse Schwartzman

The All-Tournament Team included MVP, Schwartzman, Harrison and Peyser from the Champion Blue Jays. They were joined by Duke's Danowski, Zash, Flannery and O'Hara, Virginia's Matt Ward and Kip Turner and Joe Walters of Maryland.

Large Photos / Tailgate Photos


Hopkins' Kevin Huntley

Hopkins' Kyle Harrison

Duke's Bret Thompson

Hopkins' Kyle Harrison again!

Duke's Zack Greer to Bret Thompson

Hopkins' Paul Rabil

Hopkins' Greg Peyser

Duke's Zack Greer to Matt Danowski

Hopkins' Jesse Schwartzman was the tournament MVP!

Duke's Matt Danowski

Hopkins' Jake Byrne

Petro's Gatorade Bath!