By GAB RUSSO
For The News-Letter
The Hopkins women’s soccer team took on McDaniel College on Saturday and Swarthmore College on Sunday in the final rounds of the Centennial Conference tournament. In order to advance to the NCAA tournament, the Jays needed to win the Centennial Conference Championship.
Coming off of their loss against Gettysburg College last Saturday, the Lady Jays entered the semi-finals of the Centennial Conference to face McDaniel for the second time this season this past Saturday.
The Jays came out strong, looking to dominate early on in the game. The last time these two teams met, Hopkins prevailed in overtime after a tough fight.
The first half remained scoreless; however, both teams took eight shots on goal but were unable to capitalize on any of the opportunities.
In the second half, the Jays were finally on the board when junior Adrienne Johnson scored in the 75th minute to lead the Jays to victory. Hopkins was able to keep the lead and finish the game strong, allowing them to advance to Sunday’s final against Swarthmore.
On Sunday, Hopkins faced Swarthmore, the leading team in the rankings. The last time the Jays took on Swarthmore they were unable to capitalize on opportunities in the box despite their control of the game.
“The last time we played Swarthmore, we were dominating the game until they scored a fluke goal from mid field which caused us to freak out a little,” junior Alyssa Morgan said.
The Blue Jays knew how to handle Swarthmore going into the finals.
“So we knew we were good enough to beat them the second time around, we just had to stick to playing our game and stay calm even if they score or something goes wrong,” Morgan said.
In the first half, Swarthmore scored in the fifth minute when their freshman forward Marin McCoy managed to get one passed Hopkins’s goalie junior Clara Aranguren.
In the second half, senior Maryalice McKenna tied up the game when she scored a header goal off sophomore Hallie Horvath’s cross in the 57th minute. The Jays also outshot their opponent in this half, 7-3, showing their dominance of the game was still strong. The score remained 1-1 until the end of regulation time, resulting in another overtime battle for the Jays.
The first overtime period remained scoreless, but in 101st minute of the second period, junior Meg Van de Loo scored the goal that won Hopkins the Centennial Conference Championship and guaranteed the Blue Jays a spot in the NCAAs tournament.
Freshman Kristen Hori, who has had an outstanding first season with the Blue Jays commented on the intensity of the final game against Swarthmore.
“Our Centennial Championship game was pretty intense going into double over time, but our team really came through,” Hori said. “Even when we were down a goal, everyone continued to work hard and play our game. I feel lucky to have teammates who play for one another and never back down.”
Junior Vania Ludman, who has also had an amazing season, commented on the nervousness the team felt before going into the tournament.
“We went into this weekend knowing nothing was guaranteed for the NCAA tournament,” Ludman said. “McDaniel and Swarthmore are two very good teams that always come out strong. The game against McDaniel wasn’t the prettiest of games, but our hard work allowed us to come out with the win. The game against Swarthmore was a battle. They beat us at home last time we played them so we came out strong and with a lot of energy. We played great soccer and outplayed them throughout the game. Their fans definitely made it hard to concentrate, but our team left it all on the field. I think a combination of our skill, heart, and desire to win led us to achieve one of our goals for this season, which was to win the conference championship.”
On Saturday the Blue Jays will take on Bowdoin College in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Hoboken, N.J.