strongAlanna Grady, Beacon Correspondent/strong
At this point in October, the city is normally chilled with the cool autumn air. It’s not often that the temperatures rise to the mid-80s. But when the Emerson men’s soccer team took the field Monday to take on Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) foe Suffolk University, the temperature was at a near-record high as the two rivals battled.
Part of the Lions’ gameplan against the Rams was to keep a cool head despite the weather and their opponents.
“Throughout the game, we just tried to stay cool,” head coach Jared Scarpaci said in a phone interview. “One of the biggest parts of our playing style is making sure we keep our heads.”
The game, which was predestined to be a grueling contest, saw the teams combine for a total of 14 fouls. Though Suffolk is one of the more aggressive teams in the conference, it was Emerson that claimed possession of the game’s one yellow card. The Rams, however, still brought their share of drama.
“They had a lot of injuries,” said senior goalkeeper Noah Price in a phone interview. “They’re a scrappy team, and there was some taunting going on, a lot of yelling between players. The referees gave a lot of verbal warnings.”
The Lions didn’t allow any of the antics to distract them, however. According to sophomore forward Jon Havens, keeping composed was key.
“From the beginning, the whole team had the mindset of getting it done,” he said after the game.
Havens notched his third goal of the season early in the second half, which was all the Lions needed to secure the win.
Though his initial shot was not as powerful as he would have liked, Havens said the placement was good enough. Suffolk’s goalkeeper made a save, but was unable to stop Havens’ rebound, giving the Lions the only goal scored that day.
Price contributed to the win with four saves, keeping Suffolk off the scoresheet. His ability to shut out Suffolk was something that no other team had been able to do so far this season. And although he was named GNAC goalkeeper of the week Oct. 4, Price attributed his success to the work of his teammates.
“I humbly accept it, but it should be ‘defense of the week,’” he said. “The guys have made my job a lot easier.”
Scarpaci also recognized the performances of his team, saying that they played well both as individuals and as a group. Though the conditions required the Lions to take extra care in warm-ups and remain hydrated, the ability to turn out a strong bench, Scarpaci said, made the heat less of a factor than it could have been.
Both Price and Havens said Suffolk imploded once they fell behind. The breakdown in communication resulted in Suffolk players arguing with their own teammates, and according to Price and Havens, was what allowed Emerson to gain momentum and hold onto the lead. The win was particularly important to the team’s aspirations for playoff positioning.
“It’s a huge win,” Havens said. “No one wants to travel in the playoffs, and now we’re closer to gaining a home game. We didn’t secure it, but it definitely helps.”
The Lions take to the pitch again on Saturday in a home against Johnson and Wales University, which, if they win, will secure homefield advantage.
emGrady can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org./em