The No. 9 Hopkins men’s soccer team continued their strong season this weekend as they traveled to Pennsylvania to take on the Gettysburg College Bullets. This was an exciting Saturday night matchup of Centennial Conference foes.
The start of the match saw the Bullets playing threateningly in the Blue Jays’ end of the field. Sophomore Connor Fife fired a shot at the Hopkins’ net only to be denied by junior goalie Xander LeFevre.
Unfazed by the initial turn away, Gettysburg would have another opportunity just 40 seconds later when sophomore Oladayo Thomas intercepted a pass from the Jays, took aim and nailed a shot into the bottom right corner of the cage. This put the Bullets ahead 1-0 at the 6:16 mark.
Hopkins would have a chance to retaliate less than a minute later when freshman forward Ben Biggs and junior forward Jonathon Brown each got a chance to even the match. However,the Gettysburg goalie, Thomas Keane stopped both shots and kept the Bullets ahead with a pair of saves.
The two squads would trade chances for the next 10 minutes. Gettysburg failed to convert on a few attempts, and Hopkins sent a pair of shots wide. Junior forward Pablo Martinez sent one that turned into Keane’s third save of the match.
It would be just 28 seconds later that Hopkins would get a golden opportunity in the form of a penalty kick (PK) from junior forward Liam Creedon. This followed a yellow card on Bullets senior Ezekiel Omosanya. Creedon’s PK would make its way past Keane at 22:25 as the Blue Jays celebrated the tying strike.
Creedon commented on how the team has worked to improve their play to prep for a tough conference schedule.
“Our play is getting cleaner and more dynamic with each game, and in a conference as tough as the Centennial, that’s something that is really valuable,” Creedon said.
The goalies would see little other action for the rest of the half as both teams struggled to get shots on net. Four different Hopkins players would take their chance to capture a lead but none of them managed to find the target. Gettysburg would suffer from similar woes, with Hopkins defenders blocking their last two shots of the half. After 45 minutes of play, the Blue Jays and the Bullets were knotted up at one goal apiece.
The opening horn of the second half was accompanied by a flurry of whistles after each team was cited for a foul. Just minutes later, the referees flashed yellow cards to the Jays’ Creedon and Gettysburg’s Fife. It wouldn’t be until 53:49 that a stat for something other than discipline would be marked on the books. It came from a shot by Bullets’ senior Precious Ozoh that was turned away by LeFevre.
Hopkins would claim the lead six and a half minutes later when Brown entered the Gettysburg box and sent a laser to the bottom left corner of the net.
This gave the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead at 60:17 and Brown his second goal of the season. The Bullets would get back into the Blue Jays’ end of the field and test LeFevre in their attempt to reclaim the lead.
A Gettysburg corner kick at the 69:16 mark made its way to freshman Matt Tennant, who sent a kick to the cage but was swiftly denied.
The final 20 minutes of play saw four more Gettysburg attempts at the net, but a combination of stingy defense and LeFevre compiling a couple more saves kept the second half scoresheet blank. With 90 minutes in the books, the final horn sounded with Hopkins taking the victory by a 2-1 advantage.
Gettysburg led with 16 total shots, eight of which were on target, whereas the Blue Jays recorded 13 and six, respectively.
Brown and Creedon led the way with four and two shots for Hopkins, and Thomas and Ozoh would contribute five and four shots for the Bullets’ cause. The Bullets also led the way in corner kicks by a 6-2 advantage, but LeFevre would lead with seven saves to Keane’s four.
Creedon was pleased with his team’s performance, but he acknowledged that the road ahead will not be an easy one.
“I thought it was a really solid team win. We went down early and fought hard for the whole 90 [minutes] to come back. Each game for the rest of the season is going to be a battle, but this team is a group of guys that really wants to win some hardware this season, and I feel we have the personnel to do so. We have a lot left to prove, but we are definitely optimistic going forward,” said Creedon.
The win puts Johns Hopkins at 7-2 on the year, including a 1-1 record in Centennial Conference play. The Jays will be in action again on Saturday, Oct. 5 when they host the Muhlenberg College Mules at 1 p.m. on Homewood Field.