By ZACH JAFFE
The Blue Jays traveled to Swarthmore, Pa. to take on the Garnet of Swarthmore College in a Centennial Conference battle.
Going into the game, the Jays had not won a men’s soccer game at Clothier Field in four years (October 22, 2011). That would change when Hopkins triumphed in a thriller.
After a relatively quiet first 40 minutes, senior attacker Kenny DeStefano put the visiting Jays on the board. DeStefano created and blasted a shot from 25 yards out past senior Garnet goalkeeper Tyler Zon. This was DeStefano’s first goal of the young season after scoring four goals last season.
Less than three minutes later, senior captain and midfielder Andrew Park doubled the Hopkins lead with an unassisted goal.
The goal, Park’s third of the season, would give the Jays a commanding 2-0 lead going into half time.
Right off the bat in the second half, senior Eric Buck would almost give the Jays a third goal. The defender beat Zon with a shot, but it was cleared by a Swarthmore defender, keeping the lead at 2-0. However, just seven minutes later, the Jays would get their insurance goal. Buck laced a corner into the box where it fell to sophomore midfielder Drew Collins.
Collins blasted it from 15 yards out for his first collegiate goal. This goal, initially thought of as just insurance, would turn out to be the most important strike of the game for the Blue Jays.
In the 79th minute, the Garnet finally got on the board after freshman Saadiq Garba headed in a cross from classmate Kyle Richmond-Crosset.
Garba caught juniorBlue Jay goalie Bryan See off his line on a header from about 15 yards out.
See, who would total six saves for the game, was victim again to a mishap fewer than four minutes later when he misplayed a shot from senior Garnet midfielder Wyatt McCall, and it was tapped in by freshman defender Richmond-Crosse from two yards out.
The Jays were able to hold off the Garnet for the last several minutes and take home a very important conference victory, finishing with eight shots and six saves while the Garnet managed 19 shots and four saves. The Garnet had 10 corner kicks, as opposed to the three from the Jays.
“[Swarthmore] has… historically been one of our biggest conference rivals,” said senior Kenny DeStefano. “The outcome means a lot for standings every year.”
Going beyond standings, since this win evens the Jays at 1-1 within the Centennial Conference after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Haverford, the win is important for the psyche of the young Jays.
“The younger guys quickly pick up on the energy that surrounds the game [against Swarthmore],” DeStefano said.
So far this season the Jays have gotten huge contributions from freshmen and sophomores as complementary pieces.
While seniors DeStefano, Park and Buck continue to be the centerpieces of the team, younger players like sophomore Collins and freshmen Arden Chew and Cole Rosenberger have stabilized the Jay midfield, an area of uncertainty at the beginning of the season for coach Craig Appleby’s squad, who lost four-year starters Rob Heuler and Kotaro Mitsuhashi.
“The depth on our roster is really impressive this year,” DeStefano said. “We have two to three players that can fill the starting spot at any position on the field.”
The win ties the Jays (5-3-1, 1-1 CC) for fifth place in the Centennial Conference. They will take on the undefeated Gettysburg Bullets (7-0-1, 2-0 CC) in Gettsyburg, Pa. on Sept. 30.
The men’s soccer team has a significant chunk of games left on its schedule, and its early success has buoyed their hopes.
DeStefano believes the Jays can hang with any team out there.
“If we don’t get caught up in what the other team is trying to do, we have a good shot at winning any game,” the senior said.