The men’s soccer team started off their 2018 campaign strong with two wins this past weekend. Hopkins opened up the season on Friday with a 2-1 victory over Hampden-Sydney College, followed by a 3-0 win against North Carolina Wesleyan College on Saturday. Five different Blue Jays accounted for the weekend’s goals, which were enough thanks to a strong defensive showing, anchored by sophomore goalie Xander LeFevre.
LeFevre only allowed one goal in his second and third career starts, combined, earning his first career shutout against NC Wesleyan. His defensive efforts earned him another career first, as the sophomore from Glenwood, Md. was named Defensive Player of the Week by the Centennial Conference.
LeFevre spoke with The News-Letter about his strong performance this weekend, as well as the team’s hot start to the season.
The News-Letter: From coming off the bench last year to being the starter this year, how has your mindset changed?
Xander LeFevre: I really don't think there was any change in mindset. I've known what's expected of me and I put in the work during the spring and summer, and I continue to do so to keep growing as a player and learn as much as I can from my coaches and teammates.
The whole thing is definitely a bit more real, though. Seeing what we work on in practice happen during the game and coming away successful is definitely a great feeling.
N-L: How did it feel to have your first career shutout in your third career start and what role did your defense play against NC Wesleyan?
XL: Obviously it felt great, but honestly I felt more relieved than anything, really. It was a tough game, physically and mentally, and NC Wesleyan were tough and looking to score a goal right up until the final whistle, so there was definitely a sigh of relief then.
The defense is crucial in the outcome of the game and I really think a shutout is more than just the goalkeeper's achievement. It's a team effort, and I share the achievement with my back line, especially. They were tough, organized and wanted to win, which makes my job much easier. So to answer the question, they played an immense role in in the shutout and deserve all the credit as well.
N-L: After losing last year’s seniors following a successful postseason run, how have the team dynamics changed and who has taken over leadership roles?
XL: It's so hard to replace the guys we lost in many ways. In their character in the locker room and their skill and experience on the field. Without a doubt, I think they played their part in the program's success tremendously last year. That being said, I think we have a deep squad with guys who can play in the roles the seniors left and bring their own talent to our game. Some freshmen have stepped up and jumped right into key roles (Herson Morales, Brian Lenzer, and Tim Treinen) as well, which shows the confidence they have to fill the roles successfully and the confidence the team has in each other to achieve what we want. So we definitely miss the seniors we lost, but I'm excited to see what the season brings with this squad. I also think there is great leadership from many sources in this team.
Obviously Cole [Rosenberger] is a captain again this year who's experienced and has a central role on the team. Achim [Younker], Jeremy [Ratcliff], and Connor [Jacobs] were also named captains, which they all deserve and I think they bring much needed leadership in their own ways.
Aside from the captains I think there are still a lot of different sources of leadership from a lot of guys on the team. Whether it be on the field if someone sees something others missed they bring it up with confidence on or off the field in looking after each other. I think it's pretty amazing and will definitely help us continue to evolve as a program for the future.
N-L: The team, ranked 13th in the nation, was picked to win the Centennial Conference. How is the team using these early non-conference games to get ready for conference play?
XL: We treat every game the same way. We go in with the same intensity, look to dominate the game and come away with a win. These early non-conference games are extremely useful in implementing what we've developed in preseason and develop team-wide chemistry so we're really firing in the next few weeks and midseason, when our schedule gets hectic, and more importantly in the postseason, where what we believe in and how we play is key to keeping our season going.
N-L: What are your personal goals and the team’s goals for the rest of the season?
XL: My personal goal for the season is to keep as many balls from the back of the net as I can. A clean sheet is a great achievement in a game and I'm looking forward to sharing many more with my defense this season. I'm also looking to continually improve my technique and be as useful to the team as possible. There are expectations I hold for myself and expectations my coaches have for me, so I'm looking forward to improving on and off the field. A team goal we have is to keep our season going and to continue playing very deep into the postseason. To do that we continue getting better and better technically and implement the tactics and ideas we work on in practice into the games. We also want to continue improving the chemistry we have collectively and continue playing and acting by the standards and values we set as a program.