By ZACH ROBBINS
Expectations are high all around for the Lady Jays as they look to top last year’s 19-4-2 record and Final Four appearance. Hopkins topped the Centennial Conference preseason poll voted on by the league’s head coaches while capturing seven of the 11 first place votes.
The Conference isn’t alone in keeping their eye on Hopkins since the team was ranked fifth in the nation in the 2015 NSCAA D3 Preseason Poll. This will be the seventh time in a row that the Jays will start their season in the top 10, with the No. 5 spot being their highest rank since 2012 when they were ranked third.
There will be big shoes to fill, as the team’s two leading scorers graduated last spring. Recent alumnus Sydney Teng ended the season with 11 goals while first team All-American Hannah Kronick tallied 17 goals in her senior campaign.
Despite losing valuable team players, the team is confident that the women have the ability to return to where they were last year and even take home a championship. The Jays will retain a solid core of players led by junior All-American Ana Bengoechea.
“As long as we walk away from this season feeling as though we put everything out there, there is no reason why we can’t win the national championship,” senior Hope Lundberg said.
These expectations arise from the hard work put in throughout the year by the Jays.
”Preparation for the fall honestly starts in the spring and goes into the summer. Everyone works really hard in the off seasons to come into preseason in the best shape possible,” senior Issy Berkey said, who saw time in 24 of the 25 games. “We also do a lot of team bonding off the field so our chemistry on the field grows even more.”
“My expectations for this season is that we will be one of the hardest working teams that our opponents will ever face and that our hard work and overall love for the game and each other will be key factors in achieving our goals of winning the conference championship as well as the national championship,” junior Adrienne Johnson said, who has been an anchor in a solid Hopkins defense for the past few years. She has 45 starts under her belt already, including 22 last year for a defense that allowed just .64 goals per game.
Senior and Laguna Niguel, Calif. native Alaina Arthur joins Johnson as a staple in the starting lineup, as she started all 25 games last season.
“The best part about being a part of the women’s soccer team here is that we are all extremely close and all help each other balance soccer, school and anything else in our lives,” Arthur said. “We are also all lucky enough to play competitively at a high level while also all receiving one of the best educations in the world.”
“I don’t think I would love school nearly as much as I do if I didn’t have soccer and didn’t have my team. Especially at a school as tough as Hopkins. It gives me an escape from anything stressful that school itself might bring,” said Berkey. “The game is so much fun to play and the competitive nature of it makes you feel so accomplished every time I step onto the field.
Hopkins opens its season this Saturday vs. York College at Homewood Field at 11 a.m. and then vs. Frostburg State University on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in the Blue Jay Invitational.