By MAGGIE SPITZER
For The News-Letter
In the past 10 years, the Hopkins Lady Jays soccer team has won eight conference titles. Last year they made their first appearance in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Final Four.
Coming into the 2015 season, the Blue Jays ranked fifth in a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Preseason Poll and first in the 2015 Centennial Conference Preseason Poll.
As the team enters October, it aims to fulfill those expectations, expand on its success in the 2015 Blue Jay Invitational in September and improve on its current position as fifth in the Centennial Conference.
On Wednesday, Sept. 30 the team tallied a comeback 2-1 win in overtime against the Stevenson University Mustangs. After Stevenson took a 1-0 lead into the first half, Hopkins freshman Kristen Hori assisted junior Meg Van de Loo to tie the game in the 63rd minute.
Just a few minutes into overtime, Van de Loo scored the game-winning goal on a penalty kick.
In addition to sealing the victory against Stevenson, Van de Loo recorded her ninth goal of the season in just the team’s ninth contest.
The 5-foot-7 midfielder is in her third season at Hopkins, and since her freshmen year she has grown into her role as an offensive threat.
As a freshman, Van de Loo made her first start, finished fifth on the team with 19 points, received Second Team All-Conference honors and became a scoring force in both the midfield and forward positions. Last year she continued to provide that physicality and scoring threat during the team’s Final Four season before sustaining a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury midway through the season.
This year Van de Loo has provided a big offensive boost and currently leads the Lady Jays in points, goals and shots.
“Meg possesses aggression, skill and power that is a force to be reckoned with. You can always depend on Meg to get the ball into the back of the net,” Hori said of Van de Loo’s offensive contributions this season.
This week The News-Letter sat down with Van de Loo to discuss both her personal successes and the team’s goals for the remainder of the season.
The News-Letter: You currently lead the Blue Jays with 18 points this season. What have you been focusing on to personally improve your play so far this season?
Meg Van de Loo: I focus on one thing to improve every practice. I also watch the game film after every game to see things I did well and things I need to work on.
N-L: With about a month left in Conference play, what are your goals as the post-season approaches? What do you think you need to focus on, as a team and as an individual, to achieve those goals?
MV: Our goal is to win the conference. We need to learn from our mistakes and leave everything on the field every single game.
N-L: The team holds a 4-1-0 record at home so far this season. To what can you attribute this success at Homewood Field?
MV: It’s our home field. I think that gives everyone a little extra motivation to come out with a win.
N-L: How long have you been playing soccer, and what originally sparked your passion for the sport?
MV: I’ve played since I was six. I can’t think of a time in my life when I didn’t love soccer.
Van de Loo’s actions impact more than just the outcomes of each game. She serves as a great leader for her teammates as well.
“She leads more through her actions, motivating and challenging everyone else to work just as hard as she does. I have so much respect for her and feel honored to be able to play with her,” Hori said.
The team will finish up Conference play on Halloween when they play at Gettysburg College. Van de Loo and the Lady Jays have their sights on winning the Centennial Conference Tournament.