2018 was a magical year for the Hopkins field hockey team. At every turn, it seemed that the Blue Jays were rewriting their own record book, only to rewrite it again just weeks later. All good things must come to an end, however, and the most successful season in Hopkins field hockey history ended in the Final Four as the No. 9 Jays fell to the No. 4 Tufts University Jumbos.
Competing in the first Final Four appearance in Hopkins history, the Blue Jays fell behind 1-0 12 minutes into the match as midfielder Marguerite Salamone took advantage on the first penalty corner of the match, finding fellow midfielder Beth Krikorian in front of the net, who knocked it low into the net to put the Jumbos ahead.
Hopkins would follow the lead of its Medford, Mass. opposition, also capitalizing on its first penalty corner of the game. Freshman midfielder Abby Birk linked up with her fellow freshman defender Sarah Matyas, who launched a shot over the head of the Tufts goalie to even the game at one apiece.
Both defenses remained stout, and it wasn’t until there were less than 18 minutes left in the game that either team was able to put another goal up on the scoreboard. Forward Gigi Tutoni dribbled up the end line of the field in Blue Jay territory and sent a crossing pass to forward Rachel Hamilton, who tipped it toward the back post and into the cage to put Tufts up 2-1.
Tutoni grabbed two more points for herself less than two minutes later when she took advantage of a loose ball in the Blue Jays’ circle, firing a shot into the back of the Hopkins net to bury the final goal of the game in what proved to be a 3-1 victory for Tufts.
Junior forward Maddie Stabinski reflected on what it meant to be a part of this historic team.
“I have never been more proud to be part of a team than this past season. As an injured player who only played in five games this season, I continued to feel valued and loved by my teammates although I could not physically contribute,” she said. “We won the Centennial Conference Championship for the first time in years and advanced the furthest in Hopkins field hockey history in making the NCAA Final Four. We are so grateful to our coaches, families, friends, faculty and staff and members of Hopkins Athletics, Athletic Training and Strength and Conditioning.”
Both teams recorded seven shots in the contest, with all of the Jays’ coming in the second half. However, the Jumbos were able to get six on net compared to the Blue Jays’ three. Tufts goalie Andie Stallman recorded a pair of saves, while Hopkins junior goalie Jodie Baris had three to her name.
It was only the third loss of the season for the Blue Jays, who set records for both victories and winning percentage with 19 and 86.3, respectively, in their historic season. Hopkins also was able to win its first Centennial Conference Tournament title since 2003. Stabinski discussed the team’s continual drive to improve and excel.
“One of our greatest strengths as a team was our collective ‘championship mindset’ in which we recognized that every rep in the weight room, every step of sprints and every pass on the field pushed us one step closer to our ultimate goal of winning the NCAA national championship. Before every practice, game or team activity, we would say, ‘Today is our championship,’ to treat every opportunity as a chance to grow and enjoy one another,” Stabinski said.
The Blue Jays had their first ever tournament MVP in senior midfielder Grace Hillman, who was also both First Team All-Centennial Conference and the Centennial Conference Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight year. Junior midfielder Katie McErlean joined Hillman on the First Team, while Birk received Second Team honors and sophomore forward Michaela Corvi was named an honorable mention.
It’ll be several months until the field hockey team returns to game action on Homewood Field, but if the past two seasons are any indication, this next season will bring plenty of excitement as the Blue Jays look to retain their Centennial Conference crown. Stabinski commented that the work is already being put in to make this a reality.
“The off-season grind started as soon as we stepped off the field after our loss against Tufts. Our main focus this winter will be on lifting with our strength and conditioning coach Ryan Carr, then later spring season training sessions with our coaches. Although I will be abroad this winter and spring, I am beyond excited to come back this August and see how much our team has grown while I was gone,” she said.