Jan. 4, 2010
Picked to finish second in the Centennial Conference in a preseason vote of the conference's coaches, the Johns Hopkins men's soccer team would go on to win its eighth Centennial Conference title and advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the eighth time in program history. The Blue Jays, under the guidance of second year head coach Craig Appleby, finished the season at 16-4-3 and ranked 10th in the nation by the NSCAA.
Johns Hopkins opened the season on the road, taking on St. Mary's as the Blue Jays looked to extend their three-game unbeaten streak from the 2008 season. Junior Evan Kleinberg scored the game's only goal on a pass from senior Max Venker as Hopkins shut out St. Mary's, 1-0. Hopkins then returned home to host the annual Blue Jay Classic at Homewood Field. In the opening game against Buffalo State, junior Scott Bukoski notched his first career hat trick, scoring all three Blue Jay goals in a 3-0 win over the Bengals. Bukoski continued his offensive exploits the following day, scoring a pair of goals to help Hopkins claim the Blue Jay Classic title with a 3-1 win over Susquehanna.
In a mid-week match-up with Neumann College, Hopkins picked up a 4-1 win behind a pair of goals from Bukoski, as well as tallies from junior Chris Wilson and Kleinberg. The Blue Jays traveled to Pittsburgh, PA for the Carnegie Mellon Tournament and faced the hosts in the opening round. The Tartans scored just 13 minutes into the game and held on for the 1-0 win, snapping the Blue Jays' unbeaten streak at seven games. Hopkins rebounded the following day with a 3-1 win over Mount Union. The Blue Jays once again found themselves trailing 1-0, but three second-half goals and seven saves from senior Ravi Gill gave Hopkins the win.
Hopkins returned home to face a streaking Cabrini team, which had won five straight games. Venker scored in just the fifth minute and Bukoski added an insurance goal in the 59th minute as the Blue Jays blanked the Cavaliers, 2-0. JHU then traveled to defending Centennial Conference champion Swarthmore to open conference play. The #9 Garnet got an early goal and six saves from their goalie to win their second straight over the Blue Jays. Hopkins got back in the win column in a big way four days later as the Blue Jays traveled to the Eastern Shore to take on unbeaten and 10th-ranked Salisbury. Sophomore Sean Duggan scored in the 80th minute and Gill stopped all four shots he faced as the Blue Jays stunned the Sea Gulls, 1-0. It would not be the last time the two would meet in 2009 as JHU and Salisbury would square off in November in the NCAA Second Round.
The Blue Jays got back into conference play that weekend, hosting the Fords of Haverford. Playing through heavy rain at Homewood Field, Hopkins got three first-half goals, including the first career collegiate goal for freshman Brandon Sumpio in a 3-0 win. Hopkins then traveled to McDaniel and picked up its third straight shutout on the strength of a Bukoski goal in the 33rd minute. Hopkins faced another tough task three days later, going on the road to face longtime rival Muhlenberg. The Mules got on the board first, scoring in the 75th minute to snap Gill's scoreless streak at 429:19. The lead did not last long as Bukoski knotted the score less than three minutes later off a nice pass from Duggan. As had been the case in 13 previous meetings, the Blue Jays and the Mules would need overtime to decide a winner. In the 104th minute, Hopkins took the win when Kleinberg's cross was booted into the net by a Muhlenberg defender.
The following week, Hopkins got a pair of second-half goals from Wilson and Bukoski in a 2-0 win over 18th-ranked Dickinson at Homewood Field. On a cold and rainy Friday night, the Blue Jays shut out the visiting Ursinus Bears for their sixth straight win. Once again, Hopkins got a pair of second-half goals and five saves from Gill to earn the win. Hopkins then hosted 17th-ranked York in a rematch of last year's NCAA Second Round Tournament game. Just like that November meeting, the Blue Jays and the Spartans battled to a scoreless draw, despite the fact that Hopkins played a man down for more than 22 minutes.
With the regular season winding down, Hopkins returned to conference play and traveled to Lancaster to take on Franklin & Marshall. The Blue Jays got on the board early, courtesy of a Bukoski goal in the fifth minute. The Diplomats answered however in the 37th minute to even the match at 1-1 heading into the half. That would be all the scoring as the two battled through two overtimes to end in a 1-1 draw.
Just four days later, Hopkins and Gettysburg treated the fans at Homewood Field to a wild affair. The Bullets stunned the 18th-ranked Blue Jays, scoring three first-half goals to take a 3-0 lead into the locker room. Hopkins took it to the Gettysburg defense in the second half, outshooting the visitors, 15-3. Wilson put Hopkins on the board in the 56th minute, followed by a Bukoski goal in the 67th minute as the Blue Jays trimmed the deficit to just one. The Blue Jays had several quality chances in the closing 23 minutes, but were unable to notch the equalizer.
Hopkins responded to the loss with a dominating 5-1 win at Washington College three days later. Four different players scored for Hopkins as it wrapped up the regular season with a win and clinched a first round bye in the upcoming Centennial Conference Tournament at Muhlenberg. The tournament berth for the Blue Jays made them one of just two teams to make all nine Centennial Conference Tournaments.
Senior John Scheuch scored off a Kleinberg cross in the 34th minute and Gill made a pair of saves as Hopkins shut out 10th-ranked Swarthmore in the Centennial Conference semifinals. The next night, Hopkins faced off against fourth-seeded Dickinson for the conference title. The Red Devils got on the board first, scoring less than 15 minutes in. But Scheuch answered for the Blue Jays, scoring off a free kick from sophomore Corey Adams in the 22nd minute. In the 58th minute, Kleinberg was fouled in the Dickinson box and Venker stepped in to take the penalty kick. Venker nailed his shot and Hopkins would go on to win its eighth Centennial Conference title and third in the last four years. For Venker, it was his third career game-winning goal in the conference title game, having turned the trick in 2006 and 2007.
Hopkins was now on to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight year and 13th overall. The Blue Jays earned the top seed in a four-team regional at Salisbury University. In the first round, Hopkins shutout Misericordia, 2-0, behind second-half goals from Bukoski and Sumpio. That set up a rematch with Salisbury for the right to go the Sweet 16. After 110 scoreless minutes, the Blue Jays and the Sea Gulls were headed to a shootout. Hopkins went first in the shootout and led 4-3 heading into the bottom half of the fourth round. Salisbury's Benjamin Reed fired his shot over the cross bar and junior Tony Gass stepped to the line and scored the clinching penalty kick to send JHU to the Sweet 16.
Making their second straight and eighth overall appearance in the Sweet 16, the Blue Jays did not face an easy task as they drew top-ranked and defending national champion Messiah. Venker put Hopkins on the board first, scoring his seventh career postseason goal in the 16th minute. The Blue Jays would push their lead to 2-0 in the 22nd minute on an own goal, stunning the Falcons. But Messiah, winners of six NCAA titles in the last nine years, would not go away so easily. Coming out of the half, the Falcons turned up the pressure and finally got on the board in the 47th minute. Messiah would also benefit from an own goal in the 77th minute, knotting the match at 2-2. Messiah's Nick Thompson would net the golden goal in the 106th minute off a 25-yard free kick. The Falcons would go on to win their seventh national title just two weeks later.
The honors rolled in for the Blue Jays after another successful season. Five players were named to the All-Centennial Conference teams, bringing the program's total to 92 All-Centennial picks. Junior Kevin Hueber, Bukoski and Kleinberg garnered first team honors, while Venker was named to the second team and Adams was named to the honorable mention team. Hueber and Bukoski then earned Second Team ECAC South honors. Bukoski, Kleinberg and Gill wrapped up 2009 earning NSCAA All-Mid-Atlantic honors. Bukoski was selected to the all-region first team before earning Third Team All-America honors. Kleinberg also garnered first team all-region honors, while Gill became just the third goalie in program history to be named all-region by the NSCAA earning third team honors.