HOPKINSSPORTS.COM Senior defensive player Jonah Muniz
This past weekend, the Hopkins men’s soccer team took on Muhlenberg College at home. The Jays came into the match undefeated, seeking to push their winning streak to 10 games and their unbeaten streak to 14 games, feats that had not been accomplished since 2007 and 2006, respectively.
The afternoon match was thus highly anticipated, drawing a large crowd of home-team spectators who were seeking a satisfying Hopkins win.
Regular time play consisted of a series of near-chances and missed opportunities. Senior captain Mike Swiercz found the net in just the sixth minute, but the referees quickly called the goal back. Junior captain Cole Rosenberger also had a near-goal in the 31st minute, but his header was unfortunately batted away by Muhlenberg goalie Jordan Schreer before it was able to cross the line.
A dominant Hopkins defense, which let Muhlenberg fire off just four shots over the course of the match, kept the game scoreless throughout regular play.
An eager Hopkins team thus headed into overtime, anxious to capitalize and ready to finish. Their hard work finally paid off in the 101st minute when senior defender Jonah Muniz found the net in a one-touch shot off a flick from freshman forward Jonathon Brown.
After scoring the game-winning overtime goal, this week’s Athlete of the Week (AOTW) title belongs to senior Jonah Muniz.
Though this is Muniz’s first time as AOTW, there’s no doubt that the title could have gone to him on a number of occasions throughout his Hopkins career. Consistently starting for the Jays since he was a freshman, Muniz has proved himself to be a strong and steady force on the Jays’ back line.
But his skills are not limited solely to defense. In fact, this week’s game-winning goal was not Muniz’s first. His first career goal, scored during his freshman year against Eastern Mennonite, was a game-winner as well. And last season, Muniz contributed a game-tying goal versus Bethany University and notched an assist in the game-winning goal versus Frostburg State.
Following this week’s game-winner, Muniz sat down with The News-Letter to discuss the team’s overtime play and, on a more personal note, what his game-winning goal meant to him.
The News-Letter: Going into Saturday’s game against Muhlenberg, the team had not yet lost a game this season. What has team morale been like thus far?
Jonah Muniz: The team morale is pretty high. We are firing on all cylinders right now, and we are enjoying every game and the challenges they bring.
N-L: Throughout regular play, the team had many scoring opportunities but failed to finish. What kind of adjustment did the team have to make going into overtime to correct this?
JM: I think the problem we were having during regular time was our touches and passes in the final third of the field. We were doing a good job of getting the ball in the rights spots, but our execution was off. Going into overtime, we knew we were doing the right things, but we just needed to convert. We got a little lucky with the ball getting through, and I was in the right place at the right time.
N-L: Does overtime bring any additional pressure to the team?
JM: There are always extra pressures when you go into an overtime, golden-goal situation. As a team we don’t like to change our tactics too much going into overtime unless it is needed. This time around, we knew what we had to do; we just needed to execute.
N-L: How did it feel to score the game-winning goal?
JM: It was pretty exciting scoring the goal to give us the win. It was nice to get a win in front of our alumni, who happened to be standing behind the goal that we scored on. It was fun to celebrate in front of them and give them something to cheer about.
N-L: What are the team goals moving forward?
JM: Our team goals haven’t changed throughout the season. We want to win the Centennial Conference, both regular season and tournament. We also want to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Muniz and the Jays will be back in action this Thursday, Oct. 5 when they take on the Messiah College Falcons on the road in an effort to continue their streak.