The seventh-ranked Hopkins men’s soccer team went up against the Swarthmore College Garnet this Saturday in what would prove to be a tight game between the Centennial Conference rivals. The game took place on Homewood Field.
Junior goalie Xander LeFevre discussed how the team stays focused despite the pressure of being one of the top-ranked teams in the nation.
“Staying focused is definitely something we talk about as a team regularly,” he said. “With the talent of the teams in our conference and rankings we’ve received, it is easy to think about the big games we have to play later in the season or our record, and it’s even easier to forget about the immediate games we have to win. Being aware that a lack of focus can happen and taking the season one game at a time has definitely helped throughout the season.”
The beginning of the game started off slowly. The first 30 minutes of the game featured eight fouls, two offside penalties and two yellow cards. That same time span also only saw two shots on goal between the two teams. A few more fouls and many substitutions later, the game was still scoreless 40 minutes in.
Things changed around that time, however. A foul from Swarthmore in the 43rd minute set up a penalty kick for senior defender Connor Jacobs.
The kick whizzed right past the Garnet goalie and gave the Blue Jays the first goal of the game. That goal sent the Blue Jays to the locker room at halftime ahead by 1-0.
The second half saw much more excitement than the first. Junior forward Jonathon Brown launched a shot in the 52nd minute towards the Garnet net, but it was saved by Swarthmore’s goalie. This quick shot on goal set the tone for the rest of the half. A minute later, LeFevre saved an on goal shot from Swarthmore’s offense.
As the game wound down, it seemed like Hopkins was going to just hold its 1-0 lead until the end and walk away with a victory. However, in the 67th minute, Swarthmore hit a shot that bounced off of the crossbar and found its way off of the rebound in the goal, tying the game up at 1-1.
Hopkins was determined not to have to go into overtime, but it seemed that Swarthmore had the same goal, as the Garnet ended up burying another goal in the 84th minute. Down 2-1 with just five minutes to go, the Blue Jays had their backs against the wall with not much time left on the clock.
But in the final minute of the second half, junior forward Pablo Martinez was fouled inside of the box, and Hopkins was awarded a penalty kick. Junior midfielder Liam Creedon took the kick, and with only seconds left in the game, he sent his shot past the Swarthmore goalie, tying the game at 2-2.
The first overtime featured multiple shots by both teams, but nothing hit the back of the net. After 10 minutes, the teams entered the second overtime with the score still at 2-2. Three minutes into the second overtime, Hopkins was given a red card and had to play with one less player for the final seven minutes of the game. Hopkins never got a shot off in this second overtime, but a save from LeFevre helped prevent Swarthmore from pulling away.
LeFevre talked about the pressure that arises in overtime games.
“Overtime is a really tough place to be. Having already played a full 90 minute[s] and the pressure of the golden goal rule in college soccer, it’s a tense period with extremely high emotions,” he said. “The way the team [and] I approach that period and especially a man down is simply with confidence. We have a proven game plan, an extremely capable squad, and we know how to adjust in different situations throughout the game. We’re always trying to score and win the game, and we adjust accordingly.”
The game ended in the Blue Jays’ first tie of the year. The team’s record now stands at 9-2-1.
LeFevre said that he looks forward to the rest of the season and reflected on the disappointment that comes with a tie.
“A tie can definitely be more frustrating than loss at times. There are some games where everything is going your way, and you just feel the game is going your way, and it just doesn’t in the end,” he said. “Whether it’s from lapses on our team or just a great play by the opposition, it is extremely frustrating. From these ties, a good takeaway is simply that we’re frustrated with the tie. Our expectation is always to win the game and we’re not content with any other score, no matter the game.”
Hopkins will face off against another Centennial Conference foe, the Franklin and Marshall College Diplomats, on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Lancaster, Pa.