This year, the squad has started on a better note, earning a 1-1-1 record over the first three games.,Coming off a season plagued by inconsistent performance, player injuries and an early knockout from the playoffs at the hands of Johnson and Wales University, Emerson's men's soccer team is trying to improve upon last year's disappointing 3-13-1 record.
This year, the squad has started on a better note, earning a 1-1-1 record over the first three games.
The Lions were victorious in their season opener against Eastern Nazarene College, winning 2-1.
"To come out with a win and a tie over the last three games, we're fired up," Lions Head Coach Jared Scarpaci said. "We [started] 0-3 last year."
After falling into an early 1-0 deficit, the Lions battled back to even things up at a goal apiece. Senior Captain Cody Schram scored the eventual game-winning goal on a penalty kick.
"The goal felt great, but the win was better," Schram said about scoring the goal that led Emerson to its first victory of the season. "It was our first win and gave us confidence."
The Lions used their newfound confidence and played to a tie against the Framingham State College Rams.
The squad was down 1-0 in the second half when Chris Mathias tied the game. Schram then put the Lions up for a short time.
The Rams rallied back to score a goal twenty seconds later, ending the game in a 2-2 tie.
"Two games in and we're undefeated," Schram said. "We learned from out mistakes [last year]. There is no reason we shouldn't do well. We have a great team and momentum now."
Thus far, the team, led by senior captains Schram, Chris Glosecki and Brad Fyffe, has not shown the inconsistent play that haunted the group last year. Scarpaci said, "Our key is to play consistent soccer."
Another thorn in the Lions' side has been Johnson and Wales University.
"Our biggest rival is Johnson and Wales, because they knocked us out of the playoffs for three years," Schram said about the Wildcats' dominance over the Lions.
Scarpaci said the team's troubles against the Wildcats have dated back longer than three years. "Going back to 2000, we've never beat Johnson and Wales."
Some things never change.
On September 10, Emerson played Johnson and Wales at the university's home in Providence, Rhode Island. The Lions lost 5-1, despite being the first to score.
"But if you could believe it, it was a lot closer than that," Scarpaci said. "If you witnessed the game, it was like a 2-1 game."
The Lions were down by one at the start of the second half, during which the Wildcats tacked on three more goals.
Even with the loss, the Lions came away feeling good about the game.
"They're definitely a beatable team this year," Scarpaci said of Johnson and Wales.
Unfortunately for the Lions, the injury bug is also back. There are four injured players on the current roster.
"The guys can prevent injuries by coming into the preseason in shape," Scarpaci said about the players entering the preseason unprepared, acknowledging that many of his players work or have internships during the summer. "It's like jumping into cold water. Your body will be shocked. [They key is] really about injury prevention."
"We had doubles and triples [practices] for the first week and a half," Schram said about the preseason regimen. "Two sessions in the day and running at night. We did more running because we got out of shape last year. We're back to single sessions now," he said.
Scarpaci said the team "worked on techniques and tactics" during the preseason.
The preseason also served as a tryout period for some players. "This is the most I've ever had, almost 45," Scarpaci said about the number of players trying to make the team.
"It's just too big of a roster to manage."
The team was pared down to 26.
"We have one f the deepest teams I've ever played on," Schram said about his fellow players. "Anyone can come off the bench and fill the role. The freshmen have showed they can come off the bench. The returning players from last year have stepped it up."
Asked if this group can win a Great Northeast Atlantic Conference (GNAC) championship, Scarpaci replied, "Absolutely. I think that every year. We're pretty solid all around. [Some] guys have been with me for four years. I think it's wide open."