BY DEVIN TUCKER
For the Hopkins women’s soccer team, excellence is both a norm and a part of the culture. To mold this prevailing attitude, the Lady Jays rely on outstanding individual performances from a host of contributors up and down the pitch.
This week it was junior midfielder Meg Van de Loo who led the charge to two consecutive, tone-setting victories on a fledgling season.
The Lady Jays have had a busy time this past weekend with two back-to-back games during the Blue Jay Invitational.
Hopkins was successful in defeating the York College Spartans and the Frostburg State University Bobcats behind the efficient play of Van de Loo.
The Jays started off with a game on Saturday against the Spartans.
The game against York turned out to be more exciting than the Jays had perhaps anticipated, with the score remaining tied late into the game. The game started off with back and forth offensive possessions, with the first bit of daylight for the Jays coming from a goal by Van de Loo.
Van de Loo showed great patience as she possessed the ball, taunting the goalkeeper for a quick moment and then burying the ball with finesse.
“We had a free kick. York’s defense wasn’t set up, so Maryalice [McKenna] played a quick through ball. I was able to control it, beat the defender and slot it past the keeper,” Van de Loo said.
Aside from York tying the game at 1-1 with a beautiful shot to the top corner from freshman Emily Huey, the remainder of the game belonged to Hopkins, including a game winner from sophomore Thea Harvey-Brown in minute 82. The goal came after an extensive peppering of the York goalkeeper throughout the second half of play.
“After the first game, coach told us good teams find a way to win even when they aren’t playing their best,” Van de Loo said. “We didn’t play our best that game, but a win’s a win.”
The Jays hit several pipes, just missing several chances to further extend their lead. Van de Loo also said she thought the key to success in the double header was teamwork.
“During the weekend, we had six different players score,” Van de Loo said. “Everybody came ready to play, and everyone did a good job fulfilling their specific role on the team.”
The win makes the Blue Jays 4-0 against the Spartans and marks the 11th consecutive year they have started the season with a win. “In the second game, our defenders did a great job of finding Ana and I and the other forwards up top, and we were able to combine and play quickly. There was more movement off the ball, which opened up a lot more space,” she said.
The following day, the Hopkins women’s soccer team faced off against Frostburg State for the second day of the Blue Jay Invitational.
“FSU finished 13-4-6 in 2014 and won the Capital Athletic Conference title to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament,” Van de Loo said to Hopkins Sports Network.
The game against Frostburg State was a little more decisive as the Blue Jays put up a total of six goals to defeat the Bobcats 6-1 and extend their record to 2-0.
Van de Loo had a goal in the game against the Bobcats to begin a scoring streak for the 2015 season.
Van de Loo is a player used to starting the season off in a strong fashion: In addition to scoring the team’s first goal of the current 2015 season, Van de Loo scored its first goal of the 2014 season.
“[Our team] needs to take what we learned from this weekend and keep building on it,” she said. “It’s great to start the season with a pair of wins, but it’s only the beginning.”
Van de Loo’s strong starts seem to bode well for the team, and they additionally earn her the praise she deserves.