Johns Hopkins' Selection Sunday Nerves Turn into Another Week Together

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Claire Mills has earned starts in each of the last three games.


Nearing the end of the Selection Show on Sunday, Johns Hopkins players were nervous.

Players and coaches alike watched as the bracket slowly took shape, the Blue Jays nowhere to be found. Nerves worsened as the teams playing at North Carolina, Johns Hopkins’ playoff destination in 2019 and 2021, were revealed and the Blue Jays weren’t among them.

Finally, watching the last pod of the bracket come together, Johns Hopkins’ overwhelming anxiety quickly turned to absolute excitement.

Everyone began jumping, hugging and screaming at the news their season would live on.

“What you saw was pure joy that we got another week together,” coach Janine Tucker said. “We went from a lot of stress to a tremendous amount of joy in about two seconds.”

Now, the Blue Jays are going dancing. Johns Hopkins will make the short trip to College Park to take on Duke on Friday. The winner gets Maryland, the tournament’s No. 2 overall seed.

But after finishing the regular season 10-7 and the Big Ten 2-4, it wasn’t clear what the Blue Jays’ tournament odds were. Johns Hopkins faced eight ranked opponents throughout the regular season, including the likes of Stony Brook, Northwestern, Loyola and Maryland. Their only ranked win came over Drexel in February. They were a bubble team come Selection Sunday.

For Tucker, the NCAA tournament bid confirmed the “ups and downs” of scheduling tough competition were worth it.

“It felt like [a] stamp of approval that said, ‘You guys challenged yourselves,’” Tucker said. “‘You put yourself in tough situations, and this is it paying off.’ I was really proud of that.”

Graduate goalkeeper Kathleen Garvey said the Blue Jays are excited for the opportunity to prove themselves, especially coming off a loss to Maryland in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament. She said that loss left a “sour taste” for Johns Hopkins and didn’t show the team at its best.

Johns Hopkins lost several important pieces after last season. Its top three goal scorers from 2021 either graduated or transferred, and defensive standout Trinity McPherson graduated, too. Tucker said she had to retool the entire unit, working to figure out who fit best where.

Several younger players, like midfielders Madison McPherson, Abbey Hurlbrink and Jordan Carr, have stepped up as a result. Garvey said she’s been especially proud of these players’ growth, saying their confidence has soared as the season has gone on.







One source of growth has been pre-practice speeches. Garvey said she and her fellow fifth-years decided to have a different player speak to the team after each warm up at practice, hoping to develop confidence and give younger teammates a voice.

“It’s been an awesome opportunity to hear younger girls give their input, give their feelings,” Garvey said. “Especially some of the freshmen — some of the things they’ve said have been really impactful. I’m happy to see their growth.”

Tucker said she can’t convey how grateful she is for the return of several fifth-year leaders, saying it’s been amazing watching them grow during their careers as Blue Jays.

Just as the fifth-year players are preparing to depart the program, so is Tucker. After 28 years at Johns Hopkins, Tucker is retiring at the end of the season. The 2022 season has been a victory lap of sorts, featuring the likes of a tailgate celebration with alumni and a Gatorade bath.

Tucker said she’s appreciated her team’s tenacity and commitment throughout her final season, saying not one player is just “going through the motions.” As she readies for her final NCAA tournament, she simply wants to see the best out of her players this weekend — not perfection.

“I will never ask them to be perfect,” Tucker said. “But if they can give me their best effort, then we’re good. That’s what I’m looking for on Friday — [playing] with a little more joy, a little more tenacity, to stick with one another. That’s something I’ve loved watching all season long.”

NUMBERS OF NOTE

341

The ACC championship game delivered yet another North Carolina-Boston College showdown, which the Tar Heels handily won 16-9. Graduate attacker Charlotte North powered the Eagles in typical fashion, recording a hat trick and winning eight draws in the loss. North’s three goals place her at 341 in her career, tying former Stony Brook standout Courtney Murphy’s Division I record for career goals.

14

Drexel made history on Sunday, winning its first-ever conference championship and earning the CAA’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament. The Dragons won in dramatic fashion, as junior attacker Allison Drake scored 47 seconds into overtime to lift her team to an 11-10 victory. Drexel’s defense starred in the win, powered by graduate goalkeeper Zoe Bennett’s 14 saves — her second-highest total in 2022.

9

Florida dominated Vanderbilt en route to the AAC title, guaranteeing its trip to the NCAA tournament. The Gators shined on both sides of the field. Attacker Danielle Pavinelli led the Gators with six goals, earning Most Outstanding Player honors in the AAC tournament as a result. Sarah Reznick was a force in goal, recording nine saves — good for a 60-percent save rate. Florida has won nine conference championships in just 13 seasons of play — including eight straight titles.

202

Princeton punched its ticket to the NCAA tournament on Sunday, defeating Yale for the Ivy League championship. Kyla Sears starred for the Tigers, notching four goals and an assist. Her efforts earned her a place in the Princeton record books as well. Sears set a new program record for career goals with 202 and extended her own record for career points at Princeton, reaching 299.

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