Rallying cry familiar to pesky Hopkins 18-1-2 Blue Jays reach Division III quarterfinal on 2 comeback victories

November 21, 1998|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Johns Hopkins men's soccer team might be small in stature. And at times, the Blue Jays can be pushed and beaten down.

Yet Hopkins somehow always seems to elude the knockout punch.

The Blue Jays have made a habit of late-game rallies, scratching back to win both of their NCAA Division III tournament games.

Hopkins (18-1-2) next faces Rowan in Glassboro, N.J., today in an NCAA quarterfinal and will be looking to advance to its third final four appearance in school history. The Blue Jays edged the physical Profs, 2-1, on Oct. 8 when John Del Monaco scored the game-winner with five minutes left in regulation.

"Sometimes it takes us to get mad to get us to play like we usually play," senior goalkeeper Keith Millman said. "Sometimes it takes a big mistake by one of us. It's like we say to ourselves, 'Now we're down and have to start playing.' It takes a spark."

In the Mid-Atlantic regional semifinal at Bethany, Hopkins faced a 2-0 halftime deficit before escaping with a 6-5 win.

A week later, the Blue Jays needed Sam Steinman's goal with just five minutes remaining in the game to force overtime. The regional final went to penalty kicks, where Hopkins trailed 3-1. But the Blue Jays converted their final five shots to stave off elimination once again.

It seems that second-half heroics have become commonplace. For the season, Hopkins has dominated the last 45 minutes of contests, outscoring opponents, 50- 10.

"They are students of the game," said Matt Smith, Hopkins' all-time winningest coach in just his sixth season with a record of 91-20-6. "We talk at halftime and they know what they have to improve on. They come out with a renewed sense of confidence and play very smart."

Smart as well as overachieving.

After losing 60 percent of its scoring to graduation, Hopkins has netted 79 goals, eclipsing the school's single-season mark by 10. Not to mention, the Blue Jays have already won a program-best 18 games and sit three wins away from their first NCAA men's soccer championship.

"Honestly, I thought it was going to be a rebuilding year," Smith said. "I thought we would do well since we have talent, but I think we all shocked ourselves. We just have great team chemistry. It's evident than any other team I've had here."

Pub Date: 11/21/98

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