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2005 Men's Soccer Season Review

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The 2005 Johns Hopkins men's soccer season was a series of highs and lows that ended with the Blue Jays playing their best ball of the year and winning the program's fourth ECAC Championship. Hopkins finished on a nine-game unbeaten streak with a 14-2-5 overall record and a 5-1-3 mark in the Centennial Conference, good for fourth in the final conference standings.

Ranked #11 in the national preseason poll, the Blue Jays opened the year with five straight wins and two tournament championships, as they defeated USMMA 3-0 and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 2-1 to win their own Dr. Al Tucci Kickoff Classic, and then shut out Piedmont 4-0 and Maryville 2-0 to capture the Diadora Fall Classic championship title. Junior Trip Neil scored the first two goals of his career in the season-opener to earn all-tournament honors along with senior Jeremy Jacobson and freshman Matthew Carlson. Senior Jeff Grosser helped the Hopkins defense allow just one goal in the Kickoff Classic on his way to earning the tournament's defensive MVP award. After a 3-2 win over St. Mary's in which Grosser assisted freshman Nicholas Gauna's first career goal and also scored the game-winning penalty kick, Johns Hopkins traveled to Maryville, Tennessee, for the Diadora Fall Classic. Gauna, who was one of four players to score against Piedmont, scored both goals against Maryville and earned the MVP honor. The Blue Jays jumped to #9 in the national rankings.

With two tournament championships and on a five game winning streak, Johns Hopkins began Centennial Conference play at #18 Muhlenberg and suffered its first conference loss since the 2003 season. The game was tied at two before the Mules scored two straight goals in the final 15 minutes to clinch the 4-2 win. The Blue Jays followed that loss with three straight ties including two to conference opponents McDaniel and Gettysburg. During that seven-day span, Hopkins also tied Drew 2-2 to drop to 5-1-3 overall, 0-1-2 in the CC, and out of the national rankings at the end of the September.

But the Blue Jays opened the month of October with two straight wins including their first conference win, 2-0 over Dickinson, in which senior Edmond Wybaillie tallied a goal and an assist. Hopkins also defeated Montclair State 2-1 in overtime, as senior Traver Davis scored the gamewinner with 32 seconds remaining in the first extra period. The five-game unbeaten streak ended at Arcadia one week later when the Blue Jays played their fifth overtime game in their previous six outings. Senior Steve Read scored the tying goal off an assist from junior Blaine Phillips with just 3:15 in regulation, but the 22nd-ranked Knights won in overtime, 2-1.

With the non-conference portion of the regular season complete, Johns Hopkins began a critical stretch of five straight Centennial Conference games beginning with the league's frontrunner, Swarthmore. The Blue Jays out-shot the Garnet 10-3 in the first half and 16-12 overall but could not capitalize as they set a school record with their fourth tie of the year. Hopkins finally won a game in regulation four days later when it hosted Haverford. Although Johns Hopkins controlled the game with a 23-2 advantage on shots and an 11-2 lead on corner kicks, the Fords scared the Blue Jays with a goal in the second minute of play to take a 1-0 lead. But Hopkins answered with two straight goals by Wybaillie and Read, both assisted by senior Adam Simon, for the 2-1 win. The conference victory sparked a crucial winning streak, as Johns Hopkins closed its regular season with three more wins.

Carlson, Phillips, and Simon each scored in the 3-0 win over Ursinus; Gauna scored both goals in the 2-1 win at Washington College; and Simon, Carlson, and Gauna each added a goal in the 3-0 shutout of Franklin & Marshall. The four consecutive conference wins upped head coach Matt Smith's career victories to 200 and improved Hopkins' record to 11-2-4 overall and, more importantly, 5-1-3 in the Centennial. Johns Hopkins earned the #4 seed in the conference tournament and the right to host #5 Gettysburg in the first round.

The Blue Jays and Bullets battled to a scoreless tie in their first meeting, and their second meeting wasn't any more decisive. After 110 minutes, the game was tied at one, forcing penalty kicks to decide who would advance to the Centennial Conference semifinals. The teams were tied on kicks 4-4 until Gettysburg's Brad Tabor converted the fifth and Gauna, who scored the game-tying goal, missed the last kick for Hopkins. The Bullets advanced, while the Blue Jays' hopes for a conference championship and NCAA berth ended.

But the season was not over, as the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) selected Johns Hopkins as one of eight teams in the ECAC South Championship field. The Blue Jays earned the #2 seed behind #1 McDaniel with a total of four Centennial Conference teams in the bracket. Because the Green Terror could not host the tournament, Johns Hopkins earned the right to play at Homewood Field for the remainder of its season. The Blue Jays met the #7 seed, Penn State Altoona, in the first round on Wednesday, November 9. The game was scoreless until the Lions got on the board at 63:18; Penn State Altoona led 1-0 on the scoreboard but Johns Hopkins was in control of the game, leading 8-2 on shots and 6-1 on corners in the second half. The Blue Jays finally converted when sophomore Nate Ford launched a pass from the 30-yard line to Gauna, who scored his team-high ninth goal of the year on a header to tie the game at one. After a first overtime period that saw just one shot, Simon won the game for Hopkins with a goal at 101:19, sending the Blue Jays to the ECAC semifinals against Swarthmore.

Playing in the final games of his collegiate career, Simon recorded a hat trick with one goal in the first half and two in the second to lead Johns Hopkins to a 4-1 win over Swarthmore. The Blue Jays finished with a 22-7 lead on shots and 10-3 advantage on corner kicks to rout the Garnet, who they tied 0-0 in the regular season. The win earned Hopkins a spot in the ECAC championship game for the fifth time in five attempts, with only Grove City standing in its way of a fourth title.

The Blue Jays, at their peak performance, got off to a quick start against the Wolverines as senior All-Centennial Conference defender Manbaj Gill scored his first goal of the year in the eighth minute. Carlson doubled the score before the break, and Simon capped the scoring with a goal in the 76th minute for the 3-0 victory and the ECAC South Championship. Simon, who totaled five goals in the three ECAC games, was named the tournament MVP as Hopkins ended its season at 14-2-5.

Six Blue Jays, including five seniors, were named to the All-Centennial Conference Team at the end of the year. Grosser and Gill earned first-team honors for the second straight season, while Read and Phillips were selected to the second team and Wybaillie and Simon earned honorable mention. Gill, Read, and Wybaillie were also selected to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District II Second Team.