On a day that celebrated the Hopkins women’s soccer team’s eight seniors, the No. 5 Blue Jays battled the Franklin and Marshall College Diplomats, where a Hopkins victory would clinch a berth in the Centennial Conference tournament.
Hopkins attacked first, with a pair of seniors — midfielders Emily Maheras and Paige Ackman — each taking shots at the Franklin and Marshall net. However, neither shot found the net.
It was not long after the possession change that the Diplomats got on the board, courtesy of a strike from defender Nicolette Runko at 8:43, to take a 1-0 lead.
The Blue Jays responded with more aggressive offensive play that again saw multiple balls sent towards the Franklin and Marshall cage.
Maheras fed Rocks with a pass deep in Diplomat territory, and Rocks capitalized on the opportunity with a chip shot over the hands of goalie Sara Ghorashi to even the match at one goal apiece in the 22 minute.
Franklin and Marshall continued to feel the pressure of the Hopkins offense for the rest of the half, with the Blue Jays rattling off nine shots compared to just one for the Diplomats.
The start of the second half began much like the first half ended — with the Hopkins offense applying pressure to the Franklin and Marshall defense.
That pressure translated into another Blue Jay goal, as Maheras would pick up her second point of the day with a goal at 47:16.
Sophomore forward Rachel Jackson sent a pass to Maheras, who rocketed a shot into the top-right corner of the Diplomat net to put the Blue Jays ahead 2-1 and to increase her goal total to 12 on the year.
Senior midfielder Carly Lupton-Smith commented on how the team felt in sync throughout the game and her gratitude toward the senior day celebration.
“Saturday was a great game and such a nice celebration for all the seniors. I know we’re all so grateful for the experience we’ve had as a part of this team,” she said. “We had the movement and communication we’ve needed, and people were hitting some incredible shots.”
Less than a minute later, senior midfielder Maggie Coulson continued the senior class goal parade with one of her own.
Rocks grabbed the assist when she delivered a pass to Coulson, who fired a shot into the net to extend the Hopkins lead to 3-1 on her second goal of the year.
The rest of the match was highlighted by defense rather than offense, with Hopkins managing just two more shots and Franklin and Marshall managing just three.
As the clock ticked down to zero, the Blue Jays emerged victorious over the Diplomats by a 3-1 final.
The stat sheet reflected the dominance of the Hopkins offense, with the Blue Jays finishing with a 20-5 shot advantage over the Diplomats, including an 11-3 shots on goal advantage.
Sophomore goalie Caitlin Hendricks picked up the win for Hopkins with a pair of saves to her name.
The win puts the Hopkins record at 12-2-4, including a 6-1-3 record in Centennial Conference play, while the loss drops Franklin and Marshall to 10-6-1 with a 5-5-0 conference record.
The win also allowed Hopkins to clinch a berth in the Centennial Conference tournament, and a loss by Gettysburg gave the Blue Jays the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
Lupton-Smith felt that the win serves as a great confidence boost as they begin postseason play.
“That big win confirmed to us that we are composed under pressure, so going into the tournament, we have confidence in our ability to get the job done,” she said. “Every conference game this season has been a challenge, which has made us all the more prepared going into the postseason. Now it’s one game at a time, and we feel very ready to take on Haverford.”
Hopkins will travel to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. to take part in the tournament and will open with a semifinal matchup on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. against the Haverford College Fords.