Kicking it up a notch

by Beacon Staff • October 18, 2006

With Saturday's 1-0 win over the St. Joseph College Blue Jays, the Lions stretched their winning streak to three games, evening their record at 6-6-2 on the season and putting them in fourth place in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference.,The season is reaching its final weeks and the Emerson women's soccer team has picked a great time to hit its stride.

With Saturday's 1-0 win over the St. Joseph College Blue Jays, the Lions stretched their winning streak to three games, evening their record at 6-6-2 on the season and putting them in fourth place in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference.

The Lions' lone goal came from junior forward Mallory Moretti, scoring her sixth goal in the last three games. She attributes her late-season surge to the fact that she is finally at full health.

"I've been injured from day one," said Moretti. "But I'm getting there."

Moretti credited the team's recent success to having a healthy roster for the first time all season.

"Everyone's been pretty banged up, but now we're finally healthy," she said. "We have more subs, and starters can finally get a break. It really brings up our success rate."

Those substitutes have been a major factor in Emerson's recent good fortune. Head Coach Jason Tassinari credited his bench's ability to carry out their roles effectively as a key to his team.

"Our nonstarters are called on at any given moment to produce, to continue what the starters have done," he said. "Our starters got us the lead [today], and our nonstarters protected it. Twenty-one players produced."

Most critical to the team's streak has been its ability to play defense. In its last three contests, Emerson has not yielded a single goal to the opposition. According to Tassinari, the recent success of his team is due to a mid-season adjustment to the lineup. The Lions' backfield now consists of seniors Erica Coray, Alicia Lombardi, Heather Sands and Keri Angus. In addition, Coray, Lombardi, and Sands serve as team captains, along with senior midfielder Stacy Ambrose.

"I decided when we were giving up a lot of goals that we'd go with a more experienced group," Tassinari said. "They've really responded."

The combined experience of the defense was apparent in its ability to protect the lead late in the game versus St. Joseph. The Blue Jays had a number of opportunities in the final minutes, but the Lions' defense and goalkeeper Katie Hartman turned away every shot.

The team's defense played a big part in the win, according to Moretti.

"We played tremendously offensively out of the gates but that died down," she said.

"Our defense really stepped up."

Early on, the game was a battle for possession, before a key St. Joseph turnover in its own zone led to Moretti's goal. Moretti beat Blue Jays keeper Cait Witham to the lower-right corner of the net, giving Emerson the lead it would never relinquish.

Although the Lions appear to be in prime form as they head toward the postseason, Tassinari is careful not to get too comfortable.

"The next game is always the most important," says Tassinari. "We can only build on [today's win]. There's still a lot of work to be done, but we know we're going to be tough to beat no matter who we play."