The No. 16 Johns Hopkins women’s soccer team kicked balls and took names this past weekend when they traveled to Roanoke, Va. to start the season with the Roanoke Invitational Soccer Showcase.
The Jays opened the weekend against the Lynchburg University Hornets, where the Jays would immediately go on the offensive. Driving deep into Hornets territory, Hopkins rifled off a pair of shots in the first two minutes, before senior midfielder Emily Maheras proved that the third time is the charm when she buried a shot into the back of the cage just four minutes and 12 seconds into the match.
The Hopkins offense would continue to cause chaos in the Hornets’ defensive zone, as four different Jays got a foot on five shots towards the Lynchburg net that couldn’t find the mesh. Not to be outdone, the Hopkins defense was all over Lynchburg, and didn’t allow the Hornets to record a shot until 26 minutes into the first half. Sophomore goaltender Caitlin Hendricks turned away the first attempt by Lynchburg’s midfielder Taylor Stevens. Hendricks would notch two more saves to keep the Lynchburg scoresheet blank as the first half ended with the Jays up 1-0.
Much like the first half, the second half opened with the Jays challenging the Hornets’ defense and firing shots at the net, but some strong goaltending by Lynchburg’s goalkeeper Caitlin Dorsch and some Hopkins misfires kept the Jays from extending their lead at the start of the half. Hopkins continued to dominate offensively, launching 11 shots at the Lynchburg net before sophomore forward Rachel Jackson was able to connect on her third attempt of the day, to put the Jays up by two at the 84:04 mark of the match. As desperation set in for the Hornets, they were able to get in a couple of attempts at clawing their way back, but Hendricks turned away the first and the second went wide, securing the shutout for Hopkins and giving them their fifth straight season opening win.
Game two of the weekend took place against the Roanoke College Maroons, and it didn’t take long for the Jays to strike. In fact, it wasn’t even a minute after the opening horn before Maheras would feed a pass to Jackson and allow the sophomore to introduce the ball to the net on the first shot of the day. Hopkins would attempt to widen the deficit as four Jays fired shots at the Maroons’ net, only for goalie Chris Martin to turn away three, and one to sail wide of the cage. The Jays would end the half with 12 shots on the stat sheet, of which Martin was able to turn away five.
While the offense continued to extend the lead, the Hopkins defense countered by suffocating the Roanoke attack, only allowing one shot the entire first half, and none after a single attempt in the opening minutes. This trend wouldn’t change in the second half either, with the offense continuing to pour on the pressure with shots and the defense continuing to create problems for the Maroon.
Hopkins would have three chances in just five minutes to try and score but were unable to finish. It took the Maroons until the 57:56 mark to record their first chance of the half, but the shot went wide and Hopkins quickly transitioned back into offensive mode and continued to try and get past Martin. The senior would shut down both attempts and kept the Roanoke chances of a comeback alive, ending the day with 11 saves.
A comeback was not to be had for the Maroons, as the relentless Hopkins defense allowed just three second half shots, only one of which was on goal, as the Jays secured their second shutout of the weekend and continued their strong start to the season.
For senior midfielder Carly Lupton-Smith, a strong preseason set the tone for the team this year, and it has instilled a great deal of confidence that the Jays are capable of being a very strong team.
“It was so great to start out the season with two wins and shutouts against solid opponents! Coming out of preseason, I think the team is the most organized and prepared that we’ve been in my four years. And we are all very confident that we can compete against any opponent, which we showed this weekend,” Lupton-Smith said. “I was really happy with our strong starts in both games — we set the tone right away and scored early goals in both games.”
Coming off of an 18-3 season in 2018, Hopkins understandably is aiming high this year, and they are excited to continue to face stiff competition to see what the team is capable of.
“Everyone on this team has high expectations for the season, and it was great to start off by meeting those expectations and showing how much energy and intensity we can bring,” Lupton-Smith said. “These wins give us confidence going into our next games against really well-matched opponents…We are looking forward to playing some high ranked teams to challenge our team and help us improve and show how prepared we are for this fall.”
Hopkins will return to action this weekend as they travel to Hoboken, N.J. to take on the Stevens Institute of Technology Ducks on Saturday and the New York University Violets on Sunday.