The Hopkins women’s soccer team had their long-awaited home opener for the 2019 season this past Saturday. They hosted their Centennial Conference foe, the Bryn Mawr Owls, who traveled down to Baltimore so the Jays could open their Conference slate.
Junior forward Riley O’Toole expressed the team’s excitement to finally be back on the Homewood Field turf.
“The team’s mentality was very positive, as we had an unfortunate beginning of the year schedule with eight games on the road,” she said. The Jays managed a spectacular six wins, one loss and one draw away from home.
“After going out early in the second round last year, we are very happy with our start and the success we’ve had against some of the top teams in the nation.”
The match started off in a similar fashion as most of the Jays’ wins had begun this season. The Jays were creating scoring chance after scoring chance within the first 10 minutes, threatening to score with every opportunity they had.
They would break through in the tenth minute, as O’Toole sliced through the left side of the defense and slotted it past the Owls’ goalie for the opening tally. That goal opened up the proverbial floodgates for the rest of the half. Opportunities began to pour in for the next six minutes.
Senior midfielder Emily Maheras drilled her eighth goal of the season in the 14th minute to push the lead to 2-0. That goal counted for the sixth straight contest in which Maheras had scored, and she has scored in seven of the Jays’ nine games. She became just the fifth player in program history to score a goal in six straight games.
No more than two minutes later, O’Toole received a pass from sophomore forward Rachel Jackson that opened up the defense. The junior skillfully placed a shot into the back of the net, giving her a second goal of the day and pushing her season total to three.
O’Toole, the former Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year, talked about how important her two goal outing was to her confidence this year. It was this game last year against Bryn Mawr that she suffered a season-ending knee injury.
“Personally, each game I keep feeling better. I was told that it takes more than physical recovery to get back into the game, and it is so true,” she said. “Mentally, I didn’t come in afraid to reinjure myself, but I just felt out of place and didn’t know where I fit back in the team. I am feeling very confident that I can continue with an impactful role and am very excited to get rolling.”
Jackson capped off the scoring in the first half with a dazzling strike from the right side of the penalty box in the 38th minute. She fired a shot off the bottom of the crossbar that barred down into the left side of the net, counting for her fourth goal of the season.
It was a first half defined by domination from the Jays, as they outshot the Owls 17-0, drawing four corners to their zero.
The second half was more of the same. In the 48th minute, freshman forward Abigail Gerdes notched her first career goal to push the lead to 5-0. Just three minutes later, senior forward Kristen Nixon found fellow senior midfielder Jackie Tait for the final blow, her first goal of the season as well, making the final score 6-0.
This win counted for a number of impressive milestones, as the Jays have now won five straight games since their 2-2 draw against the Stevens Institute of Technology. Head coach Leo Weil also reached a spectacular milestone, winning his 400th game as a head coach. Lastly, the Jays have now won 25 straight matchups against Bryn Mawr.
O’Toole gave some insight to the team’s mentality for the upcoming conference schedule.
“With our first conference win in the books, we are excited to hopefully fight for another Centennial Conference championship,” she said. “The beginning of our season is rigorous with up to three games per week for the month of September, so Conference play will be a nice change of pace with fewer games, more familiar opponents... and games at home.”
Ironically, the Jays will travel to Chestertown, Md. to face the Washington College Shoremen this coming Saturday at 7 p.m.