The No. 22 Hopkins men’s soccer team walked onto Homewood Field this weekend ready to take care of business. The Jays won the weekend, defeating both the Washington and Lee University Generals and the Montclair State University Red Hawks by wide margins.
Freshman forward Axel Whamond commented on the team’s approach going into the games this weekend, as well as what these early wins mean for the team going into the season. “After last week’s overtime loss to [the University of] Mary Washington, we wanted to bounce back with two big wins. We really emphasized possession and working harder than the other teams, as well as winning 50-50s,“ Whamond said. “This [weekend’s success] is a huge confidence booster for the team. We feel like there is still a lot of room to improve both offensively and defensive[ly], but there has been a lot of improvement.”
First to challenge the Jays were the Generals. Junior midfielder Liam Creedon was the first to score with a penalty kick in just the fifth minute of the game. The Jays rode the momentum. Senior forward Achim Younker sent a pass across the field to junior forward Ben Bae, who headed it past the goalie to put Hopkins up 2-0.
Not ready to give up yet, the Generals scored their first goal right before the end of the half with a shot from midfielder Harris Salom.
The Generals wouldn’t celebrate for long,. Just minutes into the second half, Whamond scored his first career goal to widen the gap once again. Fifteen minutes later Whamond tapped another ball into the goal off a pass from Jonathon Brown.
With the Jays now up 4-1, the Generals were feeling the heat. In the 70th minute, forward Harry Pinkerton put up Washington and Lee’s final response with their final goal of the game.
Though a score of 4-2 would have been enough to win the match, the Jays would continue to pour it on the Generals. Junior midfielder Nate Charendoff passed to senior forward Matthew MacFarquhar, who sent it past the goalie with two minutes left in the match, setting the final tally at 5-2.
Whamond commented on how the Jays were able to have such success offensively against strong opposition. “This weekend I think the difference was the confidence that we played with,” Whamond said. “We understand each other more as teammates, and I feel like in the offensive third we are extremely dangerous now. In addition, the majority of our goals have been assisted, so unselfishness has been a crucial part of being able to put up these numbers.”
MacFarquhar noted the differences between this year’s team and those of previous years. “I think this year we have a much more potent attacking threat,” MacFarquhar said. “This is because of the new freshmen on the team, as well as the hard work everyone put in over the summer to get better. I think our team chemistry gets better each year, and right now we have a very good mix of personalities on the team that will work well together and promote a very strong sense of team unity.”
Next up were the Red Hawks, who struggled against a strong Hopkins defensive attack. The Jays allowed the Red Hawks to only record four shots on goal, which were all turned away by junior goalie Xander LeFevre.
The Jays offense, however, continued the offensive success that they had against Washington and Lee. Junior midfielder Alejandro MacLean tallied the first goal for Hopkins with a powerful shot high into the back of the net. Thirty minutes later, Whamond was back at it again, this time scoring off of a pass from MacLean to post the third goal of his career and of the weekend.
The Jays’ defense was able to shut down the Red Hawks’ offense with strong defensive pressure to keep the ball in the Jays’ possession for the majority of the game, as Hopkins ended with a 2-0 victory.
With these wins, Hopkins men’s soccer has improved their record to 3-1. This strong start, as well as the upset over Montclair State, will likely result in a rise in their ranking as well. The Jays have not let their short-term success distract them from their long-term objectives, however, nor have they forgotten the other things that make playing for the team so special.
MacFarquhar discussed what he is excited for this season. “As a senior I am excited to finish my career at Hopkins leaving the program in a better place than it was when I joined it. I am looking forward to seeing how well our team does in the regular season and in the [National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)] tournament,” MacFarquhar said. “I am also very excited for Senior Day because my parents will fly all the way from California to see me on the field at Hopkins.”
He went on to explain the team’s current goals. “Our goal this season is the same as every season: We want to win the Conference and make a deep run in the NCAAs, hopefully culminating in a national title. We are also aiming to maintain and enhance our team culture, which we have worked hard to build.”
Hopkins will next travel to Virginia on Saturday, Sept. 14 for a matchup against the Bridgewater College Eagles.