When one discusses the NCAA tournament and Johns Hopkins lacrosse, the word success is often not too far behind.
The Blue Jays are second all-time with nine championships since the tournament began in 1971.
They have a record 38 postseason appearances, 64 playoff wins, numerous Tewaaraton winners, a loyal fan-base and entered this contest against Virginia with a seven-game winning streak.
However, none of that mattered on Sunday in Annapolis Maryland.
The No. 1 seeded Cavaliers, loaded with talent and playing with a fire resulting from a humbling loss in the ACC tournament, outgunned, out-willed and outplayed the experienced Hopkins team to a 19-8 drubbing to advance to the Final Four.
Virginia's historic win gave coach Dom Starsia his 300th career win, third all-time in Division I lacrosse. It also saddled Hopkins with the most goals allowed in an NCAA tournament game in school history.
For a program as prestigious as Johns Hopkins, it is interesting to note that this senior class will leave never having defeated the Virginia Cavaliers during their collegiate career.
Helping keep that streak in tact was the Blue Jay killer himself, Shamel Bratton.
The sophomore sensation scored a career-high five goals, continuing his excellent play against Hopkins. In three contests, Bratton has eight goals and five assists, notching at least four points in each contest.
Shamel, and his twin brother Rhamel, scored three of Virginia's first four goals which helped lead to a big first quarter.
After the Blue Jays struck first blood, Virginia responded with six unanswered goals to end the quarter.
For the tournament, Virginia has outscored their competitors in the first quarter 15-1.
Their hot start this time though was not because of any great performance at the face-off circle, Virginia simply pushed the Blue Jays around.
The Cavaliers played with a physical intensity that finally matched their impressive skill and talent. The midfielders did a good job poking and prodding Hopkins, forcing turnovers and pressuring the Blue Jays into bad decisions.
The key statistic in this game was 24 turnovers for Johns Hopkins, including only clearing the ball three out of six times in that first quarter.
These turnovers allowed Virginia to play to its strength, scoring in transition.
Garrett Billings is a tremendous goal scorer and he had a wonderful opportunity to take it to Hopkins today, scoring four goals and three assists. That is the second straight game in which Billings has scored four goals against Johns Hopkins.
Michael Kimmel had a solid effort the Blue Jays, leading them with two goals and two assists but Hopkins simply could not hold onto the ball long enough to make a significant charge.
Virginia ended the first half a bit sloppy, but after taking a 12-4 advantage into intermission they were able to reel off three quick goals to put the game out of reach.
Winning a championship often boils down to playing your best down the stretch.
Without question, Virginia has looked the best out of any team still playing in the tournament so far.
The Cavaliers have an attack finally playing at its full potential. Chad Gaudet continues to improve at the face-off circle, goalie Adam Ghitelman continues to gain experience and confidence.
In other words, they look scary.
Still, Virginia must be careful what they wish for.
This turnaround has come in large part due to their humiliating record against Duke the past few seasons. The Cavaliers have failed to be even competitive against the Blue Devils and many began to doubt whether Virginia had what it took to be champions.
Those losses have rallied the team, but will it be enough to win a championship?
As much as Virginia may want a chance at revenge against the Blue Devils in the championship game, it would be something they have not done since 2005.
Besides, Virginia cannot afford to look ahead.
Next up for the Cavaliers, the Cornell Big Red. Cornell dispatched Princeton yesterday 6-4 and lost to the Cavaliers 14-10 earlier this season at Klockner Stadium.
Seven-straight Ivy League titles for Cornell may be impressive, but the Big Red want more this time around as they reach the Final Four for the second time in the past three years.
Right now, Virginia simply will sit back and enjoy their win over a bitter rival. After all, they've earned it.
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