BY ZACH ROBBINS
After dropping their season opener, the men’s soccer team got back on track by winning two straight to take home the Blue Jay Invitational.
Hopkins opened up the year against Eastern Mennonite University when they dropped the match 2-1 on Tuesday, Sept. 1. The Jays were perfect on the weekend, defeating both SUNY Brockport and Keystone College 1-0.
In the team’s season opener, Eastern Mennonite topped Hopkins with a quick surge after the halftime break.
Senior co-captain Eric Buck nearly took full advantage of a free kick right out of the gates as his 30-yard screamer was bobbled then grabbed by the opposing goalie.
The Royals of EMU did their best to get on the board in the first half as freshman forward Jackson Taylor struck a line drive to the right post in minute 43.
Junior goalie Bryan See scooped the shot to keep the game scoreless going into the break.
EMU didn’t waste any time out of the gates as sophomore David Nester tapped in a cross from junior transfer student Juan Luna.
The deficit for the Jays grew just 67 seconds later as senior Jake Lind got in position for a rebound before giving it a second try, this one to the back of the net.
Hopkins progressed steadily down the field, and freshman Hayden Helm looked to make the most of his Hopkins debut as he ripped back-to-back shots on goal but opposing goalie Matthew Overacker had the final say in the matter and was able to deflect both.
In minutes 76, senior co-captain Andrew Park dribbled around the Royals’ defense before striking one in the bottom left corner to bring the Jays within one.
However, Park’s goal, his first of his career, was all the Jays had in them for the night as they dropped the game, 2-1.
To open up the weekend and the Blue Jay Invitational, freshman Nick Covone led the charge as he scored in his second ever game in the blue and black.
Park opened up the action as he got within 15 yards of the goal before striking a ground ball that was fielded cleanly by goalie Casey Sullivan.
Freshman Gerrit Church had a great look with a cross from deep but led teammate Gary Lawrence by a few feet.
It wasn’t until minute 82 that the scoreless streak was broken as junior Victor Osio picked off a Golden Eagle pass deep in the box and juked a defender out of their shoes before crossing it to Covone for the one-touch goal.
“It meant a lot to me to score my first career goal this early in the season,” Covone said. “It has definitely boosted my confidence moving forward, especially since it came against a strong opponent such as Brockport. It also meant a lot to have my family here watching the game as I scored my first career goal.”
Covone’s first career goal proved to be enough for the Jays, as they held the 1-0 lead ‘til the final buzzer.
The Jays followed up their first shutout of the season on Friday with another one on Saturday, as they defeated Keystone 1-0.
Freshman Hayden Helm joined in on the fun of the week in first goals as he split multiple defenders and struck a shot in the lower left corner in minute 66.
See ended the game with two big saves to preserve the win for the Jays.
”It’s definitely a confidence booster for our backline,” the senior goalie said. “It wasn’t easy to hold off two really attacking minded teams but we did. I have to give full credit to the guys as they showed true character and discipline in defending as a unit.”
A whopping 18 Jays, including several freshmen saw action versus Keystone, a real testament to the depth of this team. By contrast, Keystone only trotted out 13 of its players.
With the two victories, Hopkins took home the Blue Jay Invitational. The Jays hit the road on Wednesday as they head to Western Maryland to take on Frostburg State University for a 5 p.m. game.