The Hopkins men’s soccer team kicked off their 2017 campaign this past Friday against the Goucher College Gophers. The Blue Jays made their season debut under the lights of their home turf, Homewood Field.
Last year, the Jays finished with a 12-3-3 record. From last year’s lineup, nine starting players have returned to give the team an experienced outlook for their 2017 season.
Included in the returning starters is standout senior goalkeeper Bryan See, who returns to Hopkins for his master’s degree with another season of eligibility.
From the onset, the Blue Jays put the pressure on the Gophers, controlling much of the action on the field and outshooting the Gophers 19-6 over the duration of the game.
“Goucher was playing super defensively for a majority of the game, so that made it difficult to execute some of the tactical points we have been working on,” sophomore forward Achim Younker explained.
Despite the pressure put on by the Jays, both teams remained scoreless after the first half of play. It was not until the 69th minute that the Jays took the lead with their first goal of the season.
Sophomore defender Connor Jacobs carried the ball up the field before crossing over to Younker, whose impeccable placement landed the ball on the inside right post.
Younker would find the goal again in the 88th minute.
With the help of an assist from senior defender Jonah Muniz, Younker put the ball in the lower left corner, putting Hopkins ahead 2-0 with just seconds left to play and leaving Goucher without any hope to recover from their deficit.
“Winning the first game of the season is always tough, no matter who the opponent is, so coming out and getting a solid result gives us that much more confidence going forward,” Younker said.
The victory improves the Blue Jays’ all-time record against the Gophers to 8-0-2 and 5-0-1 at Homewood Field.
While the Jays’ offense was explosive in the second half, the shutout would not have been possible without See’s five saves. The game marked See’s 15th career shutout, which ranks seventh best in program’s history.
Younker, who tied his career high with two goals against the Gophers, recognizes the team is still relatively young, despite returning a solid number of players from last season. In fact, of the four Jays that started on attack, three were freshmen making their collegiate debut on the field.
“We have been working hard all preseason to build chemistry and cohesiveness [on offense], and we still can get so much better playing together,” Younker said. “I think we have amazing potential that we are just starting to reach.”
As the season continues, the Blue Jays have their sights set on the Centennial Conference Championship.
The Jays finished the 2016 season 6-3 in the Conference, before falling short to eighth-ranked Franklin & Marshall in the Conference Tournament.
“Our number one goal for this season is to win the Conference,” Younker said.
“After coming up short in the semifinals last year, the team has been hungry to get right back to the Conference Championship where we all believe we should be.”
The Blue Jays will continue their championship pursuit in the next regular season game against the Manhattanville College Valiants on the road this Saturday, Sept. 9. Kickoff will take place at 2:30 p.m.