For the last seven years, Hopkins women’s soccer has been a Centennial Conference dynasty. Since the start of the 2005 conference season, the Lady Jays have posted an astounding 62-6-2 regular season record while earning seven consecutive Centennial tournament crowns. The key to Hopkins’ string of dominance can be traced to the program’s ability to recruit and develop young players who immediately contribute alongside wily senior veterans. With time, these youngsters become the elder statesmen around which the team revolves. In just the past three years, the examples are aplenty. As a freshman, Jenn Paulucci (’11) was a first-team all-conference selection; as a senior, she was the National Defender of the Year. As a freshman Erica Suter (’12) was also a first-team all-conference selection; as a senior, she was the National Midfielder of the Year. And last season, sophomore forward Hannah Kronick, The News-Letter’s Athlete of the Week, was also named a first-team all-conference selection as a freshman. She tied for the team lead with 19 goals scored. Though any comparisons to Paulucci and Suter are lofty — they are among the women’s soccer program’s all-time greatest — Kronick has already begun to live up to the expectations. This past week, Kronick tied a conference record with four goals scored, supplying all the horsepower in the Jays’ 4-0 romp with Washington College. She was named Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the Week, her fourth such honor all-time. We caught up with the Hopkins soccer star to discuss what has clicked for her since arriving at Homewood.
N-L: Congratulations on yet another player of the week award. What about this weekend’s game helped your success? HK: As a team we ended the game with 41 shots, so I think that is something that added to our success this weekend. We kept working offensively so I knew that it was just a matter of time before some of our shots turned into goals. For me personally, all of the goals I scored were due to great feeds and passes from my teammates. Whether it was a ball over the back line, an angled on the ground pass inside the box or a cross in the air, they were all involved in helping me find the success that I did on Saturday night.
N-L: You’re off to a great start, leading the conference in several statistical categories. What did you do this summer and what are you continuing to do in terms of workouts, practice, mental preparation, etc. that has helped you to this point in the season? HK: This summer I worked very hard physically to come into preseason fit...I also played on a summer team with other college players and trained my technical skills with a Brazilian soccer trainer. Since I have been at school, for me it’s always about putting in that extra effort. I thought I was fit for preseason, but as the injuries have built up on our team, I have realized that I need to be in better shape. I put that extra effort in so that I am not only fit enough to play 90 minutes, but also hope to be effective for 90 minutes, if I need to be.
N-L: You played a lot as a freshman and had a terrific season. What did you learn from your experience as a young player that will carry over to this season and the rest of your career? HK: Last year was definitely a year where I grew a lot as a player. Although the collective statistics of our team make it obvious, we had a very talented group of seniors last year. I grew as a player last year by learning what type of player I really was and what I was good at. This year, I am able to take what I learned from last year and apply it. I am always hoping to improve on it and learn new things.
N-L: No team can replace someone as central to a team’s success as recent grad Erica Suter was to Lady Jay soccer, but what are you guys trying to do to fill the void left by one of Hopkins soccer’s all-time greats? HK: There is no denying that Suter was a great player and it was awesome to get to play with her even if it was only for one year. I think that this year, our team is working very well together to step up as a unit. Every single girl is working their hardest to step in where they need to so that we can be as successful as we hope to be.
N-L: The team has had a challenging schedule early on. How much do you think competitive games against Messiah and Emory will help the team in the long run? HK: The games against Emory and Messiah were very beneficial for us. I think last year, one of the major problems that caused us to fall short in the post season was that we were never really tested up to that point. Our game against Messiah was rained out and we did not have that many other competitors that gave us a very hard game. For us this year, we learned early that if we want to be one of the top team’s in the nation, then we have to be able to hang with teams like Emory and Messiah. Although we came up short against Messiah, our Emory game showed us the potential that we have. [They] will definitely help us in the long run.
N-L: What are your personal and team goals for this year? And the team’s? HK: Going into any season I always have the same goal: To essentially be a better soccer player today than I was yesterday. I just really hope to help out this team in any way that I can and hopefully that means having us be as successful as we all know that we can be this year. As a team, we are hoping to win our conference for the eighth year in a row but also to find the success that we know we can find in the postseason tournament this year.