November 9, 2013

Fords fall one win short of championship repeat

BALTIMORE – Haverford College's women's soccer team looked to repeat as Centennial Conference champions but ran into a Johns Hopkins University squad Saturday night that would not be denied as the No. 6 Blue Jays battled their way past the visiting Fords, 2-0, in the championship game of the 2013 conference tournament final at Homewood Field.

Ranked fifth in the most recent Mid-Atlantic regional rankings, Haverford (10-3-5) now must pin its hopes on an at-large bid from the NCAA if it is to gain a spot in the national tournament. Saturday's win by Hopkins (18-1-1) earns the Centennial's automatic bid into the NCAA playoffs.

Coming off a double-overtime semifinal Friday night against Gettysburg College, the Fords were likely playing without full tanks Saturday, while Hopkins came in with reserve energy following its easy 8-0 win in the other semifinal match-up.

Still, Haverford posed challenges to a Blue Jays squad that had only one blemish on their regular-season conference record, a 2-2 double-overtime tie in October against the Fords.

Saturday night's championship final ended with a different outcome, however, as Hopkins rolled up 24 shots to just six from Haveford. Those totals were a little misleading, though, as five of the Fords' six shots were on frame and required strong efforts from Hopkins goalie Kelly Leddy to keep the visitors off the scoreboard.

At the other end of the turf, Haverford netminder Robin Chernow was more than just solid in goal, coming up with seven saves many of which required more than the garden variety stops while upright on both feet.

Chernow also picked up a pair of defensive saves from teammates during the game, the first one coming from Michelle Babicz at the right post in the game's 14th minute, keeping the Blue Jays from leaping out in front early in the contest.

The scoreless deadlock was finally shattered in the 26th minute when Kelly Baker gathered a loose ball near the left side of the goal box and passed back to Sydney Teng at the top, right of the box where Teng rocketed a shot back across action into the left side of the goal to give Hopkins the lead.

The back-breaking goal for Haverford came seconds before halftime when from the right touchline Hope Lundberg lofted a cross into the near side of the box for Teng. She headed it to the far side of the box where Hannah Kronick was able to poke a shot just over the fingertips of a leaping Chernow and settling under the crossbar and into the goal netting with 25 seconds remaining in the opening half.

Haverford has pulled off comebacks before, but Saturday night would not be one of those times.

The Blue Jays, playing with that second-goal cushion, did not have to play safely and were able to eat up time on the clock with their own attack, which required more saves from Chernow and another team save.

One of the Fords' best chances to get on the scoreboard came in the 67th minute as Sophie Eiger blasted a hard shot toward the bottom, left corner of the frame, but Leddy was able to make a diving stop to thwart the scoring opportunity.

In addition to Eiger's shot on goal, the Fords got on-frame shots from Jo Haller, Phoebe Miller, Mariah Baker and Larisa Antonisse. Leddy was able to come up with stops on each of those shots to complete the shutout.

Saturday's loss puts an end to Haverford's 15-game unbeaten streak, a string that tied a program-best.

During the post-game trophy ceremony it was announced that Hopkins' Baker was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.