hopkinssports.com Achim Younker was named the Centennial Conference Player of the Week.
This past weekend, the Hopkins men’s soccer team traveled up to Plattsburgh, New York to play in the Best Western Plus Cardinal Classic. Hopkins came into the weekend with a 2-0 record, which they sought to improve as Centennial Conference play draws near.
In their first game against the Manhattanville College Valiants, the Jays got off to a strong start. In the 36th minute, Hopkins took advantage of a corner kick by junior forward and midfielder Gerrit Church. Senior defender Mike Swiercz headed in the ball for his first goal of the season.
In the second half, the Blue Jays added an insurance goal in the 65th minute. After taking two long range shots that were blocked, freshman midfielder Alejandro Maclean corralled the rebound and put a shot home to take a 2-0 lead. It was Maclean’s first career goal.
Hopkins dominated the game offensively, outshooting the Valiants 26-8 for the game and getting five corner kicks compared to the Valiant’s one.
With the win, Hopkins earned a chance at the Cardinal Classic championship game, where they would face-off against the hosting SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals for the championship title.
Maclean picked up right where he left off from the last game. He scored his second career goal in the 31st minute after receiving a pass from freshman midfielder RJ Moore and beating his defender.
At the very end of the game, Plattsburgh had a chance to score on a corner, but Hopkins cleared the ball quickly and pushed it ahead to sophomore forward Achim Younker, who beat the goalie for a 90th-minute goal.
The Jays beat the Cardinals despite being outshot 12-11 and having fewer corners than their opponent. Graduate student goalkeeper Bryan See had four saves for the Blue Jays, marking his eighth consecutive shutout dating back to last season.
The Blue Jays’ strong performance on the weekend was widely recognized, as Swiercz was awarded the Tournament Defensive MVP award and Younker was given both the Tournament Offensive MVP award and the Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the Week award.
With the two victories, Hopkins moved to 4-0 on the season, a record they have not achieved since the 2010 season. Even more impressive is that all four wins have been shutouts, which has never been done before in Hopkins history. See’s shutout streak is now at 732 minutes and 57 seconds, the fourth longest in program history.
“I think the biggest key to our shutouts is the collective effort and focus from our team on the defensive end,” Younker said. “Our defenders have been playing lights out. I really believe that we have the best defensive back line in the Conference, maybe even in the nation.”
The Blue Jays had high hopes coming into the weekend and were pleased with the results.
“Our expectation was to come out and dominate both games,” Younker said. “Not giving up any goals while also putting away four for the weekend is a solid showing.”
In addition to the shutout streak, the Blue Jays’ offense has been firing on all cylinders this year, scoring multiple goals in each of their games thus far. All this is even more impressive because the team is built around young talent, with four freshmen in the starting lineup.
“Having four freshmen in the starting lineup just goes to show that our team’s talent runs deep,” Younker said. “We have so many skilled and hardworking players that are ready to do their job when they’re called. However, we still have more growing to do as a unit, so I’m looking forward to getting better as the season progresses.”
The Blue Jays face off the Haverford College Fords on Saturday, Sept. 16 to commence Centennial Conference play.