The Hopkins women’s soccer team went into their matchup with the Swarthmore College Garnet this past Saturday looking to increase their winning streak to three games. After a rather frustrating stretch of games comprised of three straight ties, they managed to string together consecutive wins against the Muhlenberg College Mules and the McDaniel College green terrors.
Sophomore forward Rachel Jackson gave some insight into how important it was for the Jays to keep their positive results going as they near the tail end of the season.
“There’s a lot of emotion and history that comes along with Swarthmore, so besides the Conference rankings and our winning streak, this is always a big game for the team,” she said. “It was extremely important for us to get the result that we wanted from the match.”
From the outset, the Jays were the aggressor, creating a number of early opportunities. In the 21st minute, Hopkins started an onslaught which began with a corner kick. In the next two minutes, they fired off four shots, forcing saves and deflections from the Garnet defensive unit.
The fourth shot dribbled out of bounds and resulted in a Hopkins corner as they looked to break through in the 25th minute. Junior midfielder Alexandra Damron swung a cross in from the corner flag, which found senior midfielder Emily Maheras’ head. The senior slotted the header past the goalie, giving the Jays a 1-0 lead. That header gave Maheras her 10th goal of the season, making her the first player this season to reach double digit goals.
Swarthmore was able to respond in the 36th minute. Swarthmore defender Louise Rosler swung an errant cross into the box that floated up and over the head of Jays sophomore goalie Caitlin Hendricks and into the top left corner of the goal to even up the match at 1-1.
The equalizer did not go unanswered. With only a minute left in the first half, Jackson received a pass in the Garnet half of the pitch. She took the ball, dribbled past a couple of defenders, did a nifty little step-over move, made the last defender miss and slotted a shot past the goalie to give the Jays the 2-1 lead.
Hopkins started the second half with the same level of intensity that they showed at the end of the first. They immediately came out firing, featuring shots from senior midfielders Carly Lupton-Smith and Maggie Coulson and from junior forward Riley O’Toole.
The offensive onslaught was punctuated with a well-worked goal, as O’Toole beat her defender on the left side and swung a low cross across the goal face. Jackson found herself on the receiving end of the cross and easily passed the ball into the net.
Jackson described the effect that her two swift goals had on the game and the morale of the team.
“It was really exciting to end the first half winning instead of tied. I think it brought a lot of energy to the team and got everyone in the right mentality to start the second half,” she said. “Also, going up 3-1 just added to the excitement to keep up the intensity for the full 90 minutes.”
However, Swarthmore would not go quietly into the night. In the 57th minute, forward Sophia Stills took a pass off a throw-in and scored, making the score 3-2.
Determined to hold on to their one-goal lead, the Jays made the rest of the game a possession battle, controlling the ball for the rest of the match to keep it out of the hands of the Garnet offense. After a last-ditch effort by Swarthmore went by the wayside in the 90th minute, the clock ran out, and the Jays secured their victory.
The win pushed the Jays’ Conference record to 4-0-3, and extended their unbeaten streak to 12 games. The Jays also improved their all-time record against Swarthmore to 28-3-3.
Jackson shared how the team was preparing for the end of their Centennial Conference schedule, with only three games left in the regular season.
“I think the whole team is excited and ready for these next games,” she said. “The energy at practice lately has been unmatched. The whole team is ready to go out and finish the Conference season with the results that we want.”
The Jays will next travel to Collegeville, Pa. to face the Ursinus College Bears on Saturday, Oct. 26.