A cold, steady rain fell as the Emerson men's soccer team walked off the field last Thursday night. The players quickly donned sweatshirts before huddling together for their coach's post-game debriefing, their arms tucked inside their shirts to shield against the cold.
Up above, the sky was fading from a dull grey to a dark, sickly green and the field lights had been switched on to combat the approaching darkness. The setting was appropriate. It had been a gloomy match on a dreary day.
The Lions lost 4-0 to a Johnson & Wales University (JWU) team that thoroughly outplayed them. The defeat, along with a 3-0 loss to Albertus Magnus on Oct. 15, dropped Emerson's record to 2-9-1 in the season.
JWU controlled the tempo of the game, keeping the ball deep inside Emerson's zone for much of the match and out-shooting the Lions, 25-2.
The opponent's speed and quick outlet passes kept Emerson on the defense and its defenders quickly swarmed any Emerson player who got the ball.
According to Emerson Head Coach Jared Scarpaci, the Lions' problems did not lie in the team's willingness.
"I thought our effort was great today," he said. "The problem is we're not dangerous and when defenders see that, they play more aggressively."
Junior Co-Captain Chris Glosecki agreed.
"We were hesitant on the attack," he said. "We need to be able to throw off the defense."
JWU scored the first of its goals just 22 minutes into the match, when a header from Bryan Supple ricocheted past junior goalie Galen Wilk and into the net.
Five minutes later, JWU tallied its second goal, this one coming on a breakaway by Barry Phillips. The third goal of the first half came on a header from Reginald Fenelus following a JWU corner kick.
The second half continued in the same fashion as the first. More than once, JWU players found themselves on breakaways with no one but the goalie standing between them and the net.
The fourth and final goal of the match came as Johnson & Wales player Mike Keefe scored unassisted from just inside the high right box. The top crossbar of the goal was the only thing that kept the score from being any higher.
"We have to execute in games," said junior Co-Captain Cody Schram. "We talk about what we have to do in practice. We know what we have to do. We just have to do it."
There is also a feeling on the squad that this year has become more about rebuilding than anything else, according to Schram. Emerson lost five starters from last season and has struggled to click as a team.
"I guess we're in a building year," Schram said.
Scarpaci did see positives during the game and expects his squad to tally more victories.
"We're playing good soccer," Scarpaci said. "We're coming into ourselves. We will beat teams."
Glosecki added that the players need to mesh with each other before anything else can happen.
"Our main effort has been to try and bond as a team," Glosecki said. "Building chemistry takes a while. We have to worry about bonding first before we start winning games. It's tough, it really is. You can't say anymore. You've just got to go out there and play with heart a full 90 minutes."