Nov. 21, 2010
For the second straight year the Johns Hopkins women's soccer team advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight to face top-ranked Messiah with a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio, TX on the line. In the 2009 quarterfinals Messiah outshot Hopkins 23-9, jumped out to a three-goal lead, defeated the Blue Jays 3-1 and went on to win their second straight national championship.
On Sunday evening in Grantham, PA Hopkins again found itself in an early hole as the Falcons tallied two goals in the game's opening 11:37. However, the Blue Jays regrouped with their backs against the wall in the early going and made this contest a much different one from a season ago as they gave Messiah everything it could handle, but fell just short once again by a score of 2-1.
One of the finest seasons in program history comes to an end for Johns Hopkins with a final record of 19-4-1. The Blue Jays 19 wins ties a school record for most single-season wins that was set in 2009.
Hopkins put the Messiah defense on its heels right from the opening kick. Just 30 seconds into the game with the ball deep in the Falcons territory, senior Jessica Hnatiuk launched a throw-in towards the near post where junior Erica Suter posted up her defender and flicked the ball with her head towards the Messiah goal, but Falcon junior goalkeeper Autumn Reilly was in the right spot to snag the ball out of the air.
JHU had another dangerous opportunity in the 5th minute when senior Allie Zazzali played a lofted ball from just past midfield over top of the Messiah defense to junior Paulina Goodman. Goodman sped past her defender and was met by a sliding Reilly at the top of the box, who scissor-kicked the ball wide and clear of danger.
The up-and-down play continued in the game's opening minutes as Messiah was able to counter-attack the Blue Jays early opportunities with several quality chances of its own. The Falcons took a 1-0 lead in the 8th minute when sophomore Alex Brandt slipped a pass through a tight space into the JHU box where classmate Corinne Wulf ran onto it and touched it into the back of the net.
Just over four minutes later the Falcons struck paydirt once again. Sophomore Rachel Scheibeler sent a cross from the right side into the box that Blue Jay sophomore goalkeeper Meredith Maguire was unable to coral and senior Joanna Haqq poked in the rebound to give the Falcons a 2-0 advantage.
Down 2-0 just 11:37 into the game against a Messiah defense that had allowed only two goals on the year, the Blue Jays faced what would seem insurmountable odds to mount the comeback, but responded with a vengeance as they took it to the Falcons for the next 20 minutes. In the 16th minute Hopkins nearly got on the board when freshman Pamela Vranis one-timed a shot from about 20 yards out off a feed from senior Erin Stafford, but Reilly again was in the right spot to thwart the attempt.
In the 22nd minute JHU again almost found the netting off the right foot of Suter. Suter faced up her defender on the left flank, juked past her to the right and curved a shot towards the far post that careened off the crossbar and the Blue Jays remained scoreless.
JHU was able to break through and pull the score to 2-1 in the 23rd minute. Suter played a cross from the left side into the center of the box where a swarm of players were positioned and Goodman knocked home her 10th goal of the year to pull Hopkins within one.
The Blue Jays were not about to let up their pressure as they almost notched the equalizer just two minutes later. Suter again beat her defender on the left side and played a cross in front of the goal-mouth where Goodman was waiting and headed it just over the crossbar.
The intense, end-to-end play continued for the remainder of the opening half but both defenses held strong in the final 20 minutes and Messiah went into halftime with a 2-1 lead.
While the scoreless second half consisted of much more play between the 18-yard lines than the first half, it was not without its exciting moments. The Hopkins midfield continued to consistently win possession of the ball in the center of the pitch and create scoring chances after the intermission as the Blue Jays outshot the Falcons 6-4 in the second frame.
In the 60th minute Stafford's corner kick was flicked on towards the far post and a Messiah defender attempted to clear it out of the box, but the ball rolled out to Vranis, who blasted a screamer towards goal that was blocked by a Falcon defender near the goal line.
Johns Hopkins had another excellent chance in the 80th minute when the Blue Jays worked the ball around in the Messiah half with a beautiful build-up towards the Falcons goal. Senior defender Jenn Paulucci pushed forward and fed Suter just inside the left edge of the box. Suter drilled a left-footed shot towards the far post that once again hit the crossbar and went over the goal for a Falcon goal kick.
In the 88th minute the Blue Jays pushed forward one final time on a counter-attack and came oh-so-close to notching the game-tying goal. Freshman Christina Convey beat her defender along the goal line on the right side and played a perfect pass back to Goodman in the center of the box about 10 yards from goal. Goodman ripped a liner that was blocked by a Falcon defender and Messiah secured the win.
The Falcons held a slight edge in shots (11-10) and corner kicks (5-3). Maguire totaled five saves in the loss and closes out the season with a record of 11-2 in net for the Blue Jays. Reilly recorded two saves at goalkeeper for Messiah.
The Blue Jays say goodbye to a group of five seniors - Sarah Gieszl, Jenn Paulucci, Erin Stafford, Sara Tankard and Allie Zazzali - who have compiled a combined record of 70-14-7 (.807) in their four seasons at Johns Hopkins.