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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University June 13, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 37
National Lacrosse Champions!

The undefeated Blue Jays hoist the championship trophy just after their 9-8 triumph over Duke in Philadelphia.

Blue Jays cap a perfect season, end title drought with win over Duke

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

With a dramatic, come-from-behind 9-8 victory against Duke in the NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship, Johns Hopkins crowned an unforgettable season of perfection and earned the Blue Jays their eighth national NCAA title and first since 1987.

The Blue Jays entered the championship game, held on May 30 at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field, with a 15-0 record and pitted against the nation's second-ranked and top-scoring team. In front of a record crowd of 44,920, sophomore goalie and tournament MVP Jesse Schwartzman and the rest of the Hopkins defense shut down the high-powered Blue Devils, allowing just one goal in the final 30 minutes of play.

Duke carried a 7-6 lead into the second half and pushed the lead to 8-6 just 2:17 into the third quarter. However, Hopkins fought back to tie the game 8-8, and then with 13:35 remaining in the contest, sophomore Jake Byrne scored what would be the decisive game-winning goal.

With the win, the Blue Jays became only the third team since 1971 — when the NCAA began sponsoring the men's lacrosse national championship — to post a perfect 16-0 record.

"I am so proud of these guys right now," head coach Dave Pietramala said in the post-game press conference. "When we lost a year ago [in the semifinals], people told us that we quit. They just kept working. When we got back to campus, they made a commitment that we were just going to take it one day at a time and we were going to play to the best of our ability. I'm just so proud of these kids, our fans and our administration."

Kyle Harrison at Tewaaraton event

To think, the team came within 12.9 seconds of once again ending their season in the semi's.

In Saturday's semifinal contest against Virginia, the Cavaliers had scored the go-ahead and apparent game-winning goal in the final minute of regular time. A miracle was needed, and JHU got one in the form of a possession series that will surely go down in the annals of an already storied lacrosse history. Greg Peyser won the ensuing faceoff for the Blue Jays and raced down the right side into the offensive zone, where he skipped a perfect cross-field pass to Byrne, who quickly dodged to his left and launched a strike by the Virginia goalie with 1.4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to force the game into overtime.

In the first overtime period, after a series of clutch saves by Schwartzman, senior defensive midfielder Benson Erwin scored only his fourth goal of the season with 50.7 seconds remaining to lift Hopkins to its second NCAA Championship game in three years. The thrilling, classic game had already featured a dramatic comeback by the Cavaliers, a thunderstorm, 46-minute delay and the first scoreless opening quarter in NCAA playoff history. The win also helped avenge a Blue Jays loss to Virginia in the 2003 title game.

JHU's senior class ended its career with a record of 55-6, one national championship and four trips to the Final Four. Senior standout midfielder Kyle Harrison was presented on June 2 with the 2005 Tewaaraton Trophy as the nation's top player. Harrison, who had been among five finalists for the award as a sophomore and junior, is the first Hopkins recipient of the award, which began in 2001.

Harrison concluded a standout career by leading the Blue Jays to a national championship and their first undefeated season since 1984. He led the team in goals (24), assists (20) and points (44), and won 39 of 64 (.609) faceoffs on the year. He also earned First Team STX/USILA All-America honors for the second straight season and was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team, along with Schwartzman and Peyser.

Pietramala, now in his fifth year as head coach, became the first person in the history of college lacrosse to win an NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship as both a player and head coach. Pietramala was a three-time First Team All-American during his playing career at Johns Hopkins and led the Blue Jays to the 1987 NCAA Division I Championship.

For more lacrosse championship information and photos, go to


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