By ZACH JAFFE
The No. 1 Franklin & Marshall (F&M) Diplomats traveled to Homewood Field to take on the unranked Blue Jays in what would be a hotly contested battle from the first minute.
The Jays, who were riding a four-match unbeaten streak, proved to be one of the biggest threats of the year to the undefeated and top-ranked centennial conference foe.
Looking to stay undefeated and atop the D-III rankings, F&M pressured early on, but the Jays were able to stave off eight shots in the first half, as well as to deny the Diplomats all three corner kick opportunities.
The Jays, on the other hand, managed six shots in the first half. The goalie battle started early and proved to be the theme in the game, with Hopkins junior Bryan See and F&M senior Trevor Britton each making three saves in the first half.
Offense proved to be at a premium in this game, and to respond to that, Coach Appleby called for a more aggressive approach at the beginning of the second half.
As of the 56th minute, the Blue Jays had five shots on goal to the Diplomats’ three. However, in the 56th minute, Diplomats sophomore Jeremy Levine sent a free kick into the box and the leading goal-scorer of the season, senior Chase TenBrook, headed it over Bryan to give the Diplomats a 1-0 lead.
From then on, the Blue Jay’s offense was stifled by a stingy F&M defense that would not allow another shot on goal for the rest of the game.
F&M was able to do what it had done to five of its six former opponents — use an early lead to sit back and rely on its number-four defense in goal, shutting out its opponent.
Hopkins outshot F&M 13 to 11 and both teams had five shots on goal. See finished with four saves as opposed to five for the Diplomats’ Britton. Sophomore Michael Swiercz led the team in shots with four.
The Jays showed their mettle, hanging with the top-in-the-nation Diplomats who have absolutely steamrolled opponents thus far. Hopkins can certainly count on having to take on F&M again if they have any post-season aspirations.
The loss drops Hopkins to 7-4-2 and 2-2-1 in the conference play, while F&M moves to 13-0-0 and 5-0-0 in conference.
The Blue Jays return to the action and travel to Allentown, Pa. to take on the Mules of Muhlenberg College on Saturday, Oct. 24 in more Centennial Conference action. With just a few games remaining in the regular season, the Jays are in good shape to secure a spot in the conference playoffs.