This past Saturday, the No. 6 ranked Hopkins women’s soccer team was looking to right the ship against the Muhlenberg College Mules.
The Jays’ past three matches resulted in ties against Centennial Conference opponents.
Senior midfielder Carly Lupton-Smith shared how the team was dealing with the disappointing results.
“We knew that we had been playing well, but we just hadn’t put it all together the past few games,” she said. “Our mentality was to maintain confidence in ourselves and stay positive, knowing that when we can play at the level we are capable of, then the wins will happen.”
This first half did not go the way of the Jays. They had a number of opportunities starting at the 14th minute, where they fired off seven shots in six minutes.
Sadly, none of these shots found the back of the net, as Muhlenberg goalkeeper Libby Juliano was able to save three of the shots, with a number of others being blocked.
The Mules scratched ahead in the 35th minute, after a counterattack that stemmed from an intercepted pass.
Muhlenberg sophomore Cece Peden made her way through the defense and buried a shot from the top of the box. The first half ended with the Jays having to display the resiliency that they’ve shown all season.
Hopkins came out firing in the second half, determined to snatch the lead back and hoping to buck the recent trend of ties.
Within the first 10 minutes of the half, the Jays were threatening the Mules’ defense, creating a number of opportunities that ultimately ended in blocked shots from junior forward Riley O’Toole and senior midfielder Maggie Coulson.
Starting in the 64th minute, the Jays were on the attack once again with Lupton-Smith and sophomore forward Rachel Jackson testing the goalkeeper.
However, Juliano was up to the task, making the saves and preserving Muhlenberg’s lead.
In the 68th minute, senior forward Maddy Rocks fed senior midfielder Emily Maheras with a clean pass, from which Maheras found a decent amount of space.
She was able to weave her away around the defender and fired a shot towards the goal.
The shot snuck past the Muhlenberg keeper, but it careened off the post, leaving the Blue Jays without a goal.
The sky finally opened up for Hopkins in the 81st minute, when Maheras drew a foul from about 25 yards out.
Junior defender Alex Damron lined up and played the ball into the box, searching for a Hopkins boot for a misdirection. Lupton-Smith answered her calls, flicking the ball up and into the net for the equalizer.
She told us what it meant to get that leveling goal.
“I was so happy with how the whole team refused to give up,” Lupton-Smith said. “I think everyone felt like a goal was going to come. Alex played such a great free kick in and when I scored, I knew we were going to be able to come back and win the game.”
The goal came as a result of a strong possession sequence, as they controlled the ball and continued to create threatening opportunities.
With time running out and the Jays looking to get over the hill and net another goal, freshman forward Abigail Gerdes cut into the box and was taken down hard, drawing a penalty in the 89th minute.
Maheras stepped to the penalty spot with a chance to give the Jays their first win in three matches. The senior delivered, as she expertly placed her shot right inside the left post, giving Hopkins the lead and the 2-1 victory.
Lupton-Smith described how the team was able to complete the thrilling comeback.
“I think everyone on the team played with so much heart and intensity,” Lupton-Smith said. “After facing a lot of tough ties recently, we knew how much this game meant and instead of letting the pressure hold us back, we played for each other and maintained our energy until the end.”
The victory pushed their unbeaten streak to 10 games, and gave them their second win in Conference.
They’ll look to improve their record and defend Homewood Field against the Swarthmore College Garnet on Saturday, Oct. 19.
Lupton-Smith shared a final word concerning how the Jays would move forward to keep the good times rolling.
“Going forward we want to use this win to gain momentum and prove that we can create opportunities and score throughout the whole game, against anybody,” she said. “This season has proven that every game is going to be a fight. We’re definitely ready for the rest of conference play.”