Hopkins men’s soccer took home the Centennial Conference trophy on Saturday in a dramatic come-from-behind victory over the Franklin and Marshall (F&M) Diplomats at Tylus Field in Lancaster, Pa.
The Blue Jays clinched an NCAA tournament spot after coming back from a goal deficit twice to seal their victory and claim the conference title.
Sophomore forward Jake Kooyman shared how he felt about the team heading into the match.
“Going into the game, I was feeling confident about our chances of winning given how well the team has been playing recently and given that we beat [F&M] during the regular season,” Kooyman said.
Both teams put the pressure on immediately, with each having a dangerous free-kick opportunity saved within the first 15 minutes of the game.
Junior midfielder Liam Creedon almost found the back of the net on his, but it was saved by F&M goalie Chris Amoruso.
Just two minutes later, the Diplomats took the lead. The opening goal was scored in the 17th minute by forward Kane Feudtner following a long throw-in from defender Carl Friedrich.
This lead held for just under 15 minutes before Hopkins hit back on the counter-attack.
Senior forward Achim Younker, having just come on, took down a long through-ball in the middle of the field and slipped a pass between two defenders in the 32nd minute for Kooyman. He fired the ball into the goal past the near post, and the score was level.
Hopkins had a few chances to take the lead before the end of the half, but could not convert.
Younker fired just wide of an open net in the 35th minute, and sophomore defender Brian Lenzer tried a hard shot following a corner, but it was saved by the F&M goalie.
Kooyman explained the team’s mindset and enthusiasm as they head into halftime.
“The mood was lively at halftime after we brought the game to a tie before the break,” Kooyman explained. “The gaffer [coach] was encouraging us to push on for another goal and believed it was coming.”
But the Blue Jays found themselves down once again after the second half started. F&M struck through with forward Alex Lalovic, who was assisted by forward Jack Brandt, to take a 2-1 lead in the 60th minute. Hopkins didn’t despair, though.
Awarded a free-kick just a minute later, junior forward Pablo Martinez was fouled in the box during an attack, and the ref gave a penalty. Creedon stepped forward to take it, and he slotted it home in the 62nd minute, tying the game once more.
The tie didn’t last long though. Just eight minutes later, Kooyman sent junior midfielder Alejandro Maclean running with a perfect headed pass.
Maclean held off his defender and ran for more than 20 yards before firing a left-footed shot into the corner of the goal from the top of the box after the F&M goalie had come off of his line.
The 70th minute goal gave Hopkins a 3-2 lead that they would not relinquish. F&M pressed after Maclean’s goal, and even had a couple of good opportunities.
F&M’s Lalovic had a good chance from just 10 yards out that was turned away expertly by junior goalie Xander LeFevre.
And in the last few minutes of the good, F&M took a final shot that just barely missed the target and floated over the crossbar.
Soon after, the final whistle blew and Hopkins captured the Centennial Conference title.
Kooyman was ecstatic about the win and what it meant to the program.
“It was a great feeling to assist Ale[jandro]’s goal and bring the Centennial Conference back to Baltimore for the first time in 10 years,“ he said.
Hopkins claimed their ninth Centennial Conference title, and their first since 2009. This is their second title under head coach Craig Appleby.
The Jays will be making their third straight tournament appearance and their fifth under Appleby.