This past weekend, men’s soccer returned to Homewood Field for their fourth and fifth consecutive home games against SUNY Cortland and Emory University, respectively. This grueling weekend comes after a busy week of traveling among the mid-Atlantic states to compete against Lycoming College and Mary Washington College. Despite the team’s packed schedule, Hopkins remained unbeaten, defeating SUNY Cortland 2-0 and ending in a scoreless draw with Emory.
The weekend commenced midday Saturday on the Homewood pitch against 10th-ranked SUNY Cortland. No goals were made in the first half thanks to graduate student goalkeeper Alex Morgret’s two crucial saves in the first few minutes.
Two minutes after halftime, senior forward Ben Biggs sought out a hole — a perfect opportunity — in Cortland defense to secure a goal with nice passing from junior defender Logan Falzarano and junior midfielder Francis Meyer down the right sideline. 20 minutes later, galvanized by the first goal of the game, junior forward and midfielder Tyler White and sophomore midfielder Ian Whamond found a loose ball on the sideline in a counterattack and passed to senior forward Axel Whamond, who struck a low shot from 10 yards out, one-on-one with Cortland’s keeper. With offensive plays heavily underscoring ball possession, Hopkins defeated a sizeable, ranked opponent.
White explained the value of primarily playing in an offensive system.
“Last year, we would go up one goal, and then play defensively for the rest of the game. But we were happy that we didn’t defend the whole time against Cortland and ended the game on our own terms,” he said.
The preeminence of offensive attacking is echoed by his teammate Axel Whamond.
“We love to possess the ball to frustrate opponents and keep building on that… because ultimately, when we stick to our style of the play we’ll be able to score many goals,” he said.
Whamond was assisted by his brother Ian Whamond in the insurance goal at the seventy-ninth minute during the game against Cortland.
Although only two years apart, the brothers had never played on the same pitch together prior to joining Hopkins. Whamond commented on his brother’s competitive drive in an interview with The News-Letter.
“Obviously we played pickup in the backyard. But when we’re on the same competitive team, there is a new link between us. His desire to win is something the rest of the team feeds off,“ he said.
In the time that Hopkins had solidified a victory against SUNY Cortland, the Emory University Eagles were flying up to Homewood from Atlanta, Georgia to face off in a non-conference match.
Heavy with precipitation, Sunday morning would prove to be an offensive struggle. Sophomore forward Jonathan Cui outlined the adjustments made to the play’s strategy in an interview with The News-Letter.
“We wanted to stretch [Emory] out in order to create holes in their defense, but the sidelines were flooded and the ball wasn’t moving, which made our team narrower and more compact,“ he said.
Despite this, Cui, Axel Whamond and junior midfielder Aidan Dunphy all made shots within the first 45 minutes.
In addition to the quality of offensive strategy, defense warded off attacks from the Eagles, as Hopkins outshot Emory 10-4.
Head coach Craig Appleby highlighted that the draw against the Eagles continues to provoke the team’s desire to win and shoot more.
“Rain is not ideal. We ended up having to play in the football lines, where rain is less of a deterrent, but we didn’t quite overcome it,“ he said. “We need to create more attacks in play, so we’re not sitting at the end of this season with an excuse. The Emory game was a training session. If we make the tournament and we are presented with a situation, we adapt and overcome it. We got part of it this time, but we didn’t get all of it right.”
The Blue Jays will take on the Stevenson University Mustangs on Sept. 14 in a non-conference game and the Swarthmore College Garnet on Sept. 17 in their conference opener.
Cui stressed the team’s determined mindset moving forward.
“Part of our plan is taking care of business. One game at a time. Don’t focus on the rest. Win what’s right there. We’re going 100 miles an hour in the conference,“ he said.