2018 Johns Hopkins Men's Soccer Season Preview Blue Jays set their sIGHTs high in 2018

16-1-4, undefeated in league play, regular season conference champions, and an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. For most teams, that would be a great season. For the Johns Hopkins men's soccer team, all those accomplishments just left the Blue Jays wanting more in 2018. Hopkins returns eight of its top nine scorers, including four of the top 10 in the conference, and has set its eyes on winning the Centennial Conference Tournament and a trip to the NCAA Final Four.

Players to Watch

Achim Younker had a breakout sophomore season that saw him score 17 goals and 35 points to earn First Team All-Centennial Conference and Second Team All-America honors in 2017. His 17 goals and 35 points are the most of any returning player in the conference in 2018.

Cole Rosenberger and Connor Jacobs return to anchor a young defense that lost four starters, including All-Americans Bryan See and Mikey Swiercz. The Blue Jays led the Centennial and ranked third in the nation in goals against average (.0271) and shutouts (16) in 2017. An Honorable Mention All-Centennial pick last season, Rosenberger has started all 58 games of his career and his experience will be a key for the Blue Jays in 2018.

Jacobs earned Second Team All-Centennial and Third Team All-Mid-Atlantic honors a year ago. He ranked third on the team in assists (6) while being a key member of one of the top defenses in the nation.

RJ Moore stepped right into a starting role as a freshman and went on to earn Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year, as well as Second Team All-CC and First Team All-Mid-Atlantic honors. He led the team and the conference in assists (9), while tying the conference record for assists by a freshman. Moore and classmate Alejandro Maclean will anchor an experienced midfield for the Blue Jays.

Maclean and Moore proved to be a dangerous one-two punch in the midfield last season. Maclean, who earned Second Team All-CC honors, scored four goals and handed out six assists to finish second on the team in points (14) and tied for third in goals and assists.

Johns Hopkins is the preseason favorite to win the Centennial Conference in 2018 in a vote of the conference's coaches. The Blue Jays earned eight of 10 first-place votes and a total of 80 points to edge out defending champion Franklin & Marshall. Hopkins went 7-0-2 and allowed just two goals in league play before falling in a penalty kick shootout in the Centennial Conference semifinals a year ago. JHU boasts the most conference titles (8) and best record in league play (165-40-20 / .778) since the Centennial's inception in 1993.

Head coach Craig Appleby is back for his 11th year and will coach his 200th game with the Blue Jays on August 31 versus Hamden-Sydney. The second winningest coach in the program's 83-year history, Appleby boasts a 117-50-32 (.668) record at Homewood. He earned Coach of the Year honors from the Centennial Conference and the United Soccer Coaches (Mid-Atlantic) in 2017.

Johns Hopkins earned its first preseason ranking since 2011 as the Blue Jays are ranked 13th in the United Soccer Coaches 2018 preseason poll. The Blue Jays spent seven weeks in the top 25 last season, climbing as high as ninth in the poll on the strength of an 11-0-0 start.

Appleby put together another tough schedule for the Blue Jays as their 2018 opponents combined for 179 wins a year ago. In addition, six of their opponents went to the NCAA Tournament and a pair, Messiah (#1) and Drew (#12), are ranked in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll. Fans will get to see the Blue Jays play at Homewood Field nine times in the regular season. Hopkins opens the home portion of its schedule on Wednesday, September 5 versus Frostburg State.

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