Men’s soccer was back in action this week, hosting a marquee matchup with the 10th ranked Gettysburg Bullets on Thursday evening. Although the weekend got off to a slow start with a grueling 110 minute 0-0 draw with the Bullets, the Blue Jays took home a hard-fought 1-0 victory on Saturday night after upsetting Franklin & Marshall, who were previously ranked 5th in the country.
Following their defeat to Muhlenburg last week, Hopkins looked to improve their conference record by coming out hard and fast against Gettysburg. As the corner kicks would have it, Hopkins possessed the majority of the play, earning eight corners to the Bullets’ three. Despite the advantage in possession, both teams had equal shots at the goal, with Gettysburg slightly outshooting the Jays, 13-12.
Hopkins’ defensive superstar, Nick Cerrone, snuffed out any shots on goal with considerable ease and prowess, pulling off yet another shut-out, with five saves that evening. The only true quality shot on goal from Gettysburg came in the 60th minute with a laser strike from sophomore midfielder Will Gately. The shot whistled wide, and the Hopkins defense took a collective breath of relief.
Aside from the Bullet’s chance in the 60th minute, the Blue Jays were constantly on the attack, trying to crack the opposing team’s defense with a combination of long balls, combination play and one-on-one action. Sophomore forward, Matt Carey, had the best opportunity of the first half, running onto a beautifully placed ball that beat the back line and forced the Gettysburg keeper, Connor Darrell, off his line. To the dismay of Carey and his teammates, the slotted shot rolled just wide of the left post. Moments later, the whistle sounded, signifying the end to the scoreless first half.
In the second half, Hopkins would continue the attack, utilizing the vision and consistent playmaking abilities of sophomore Rob Hueler.
Freshman Josh Hong got a solid chace at the goal, searching for that elusive far post upper ninety as he managed to create a moment of space in the crowded 18-yard box in the 77th minute. With chances going back-and-forth the second half, sophomore Kotaro Mitsuhashi would take an inspiring run at the goal late in the game. The ever-dangerous Mitsuhashi sliced and diced the back line, launching a left-footed near post rocket in the 87th minute.
However, the score remained an unexciting 0-0 at the end of regulation time. After ten more minutes of unsuccessful play, the match ended with a scoreless conclusion.
Frustrated with the anticlimactic result, Hopkins switched the line-up for Saturday’s marquee matchup against powerhouse Franklin & Marshall.
The alterations to the formation paid off as the Blue Jays upset Franklin & Marshall 1-0, forcing the Diplomats to an overall 7-3 record with a 1-3 conference scoresheet. The goal came halfway through the first half from senior captain Matt Dunne. Play started from Cerrone who powered a goal kick to the head of freshman Kenny Destefano, which was then flicked on for the header feed to Dunne’s feet. With a clinical finish, Dunne scored his first goal of the season when the ball found the back of the far post net. Despite Franklin & Marshall’s overall 20 shots to Hopkins’ 15, Dunne’s goal would stand alone at the end of 90 minutes.
Freshmen Kenny Destefano was integral to the game-winning goal and had actually started as a centerback for the Jays prior to Saturday’s game. Adding some height to the attacking line, Destefano admitted he was happy playing anywhere on the field. When questioned about his other contributions to the front line, the freshman cited his experience on defense, “I think my defensive mindset helps us possess a little bit more on the attack.”
The former center-back-turned-forward is not the only freshman making an impact on the field. Many other fresh faces are getting in on the action, including Kevin Caskey, a player who Destefano credits with controlling Hopkins defense. Josh Hong is another freshman to watch, having already tallied his first collegiate goal. Finally, Destefano acknowledged Ian Heinrich as having stepped up to fill in some holes in the midfield, playing alongside captain Rob Hueler.
Finishing off the week of play, the Blue Jays tied 0-0 with Salisbury this Wednesday.
With a promising freshman class and an exciting result on Saturday night, Hopkins men’s soccer looks to improve on their 4-4-2 record as they take on Ursinus College for the first time this year on Saturday.