Lions#039; hot feet find goal

by Beacon Staff • October 31, 2007

While fans lined up on Boylston Street for the victory parade, the soccer team was taking care of business, advancing to the conference championship game with a win over St.,As champagne flowed in the Red Sox clubhouse this weekend, there was more reason for celebration as the Emerson women's soccer team beat Simmons College 1-0 in the opening round of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) playoffs.

While fans lined up on Boylston Street for the victory parade, the soccer team was taking care of business, advancing to the conference championship game with a win over St. Josephs's College.

The results from the past few days extends Emerson's unbeaten streak in the GNAC to 13 games, improving their record to 13-3-4 overall.

Much like the major league powerhouse Sox, the Lions have become a force to be reckoned with in the conference, tying a school record for victories in a season with their 13 wins.

After finishing the season tied for the second seed with St. Joe's, Emerson was forced into the third spot due to an early season loss to St. Joseph's in conference play, and prepared to face Simmons, the number six seed.

In a tight defensive match-up, the lone goal came from the Lions. Freshman midfielder Lindsay D'Andrea came down the left side of the field and sent in a cross that sophomore midfielder Kendra Davidson headed into the back of the net. Senior forward and captain Casey Whalen had high praise for Davidson.

"Kendra played great, she has been a force all season," the media studies major said. "She deserves to get more recognition than she gets."

Whalen said the goal added energy to the team, which was already fired up and playing aggressively. Whalen also credited the fans for supporting the team in the victory, sticking around to cheer the Lions on even though rain fell throughout the match and the air turned cold.

Much of the fan support has been garnered by the team's record-breaking play down the stretch. The record was originally set in 2004, the first year Coach Jason Tassinari headed the team.

"This is the most complete, self-motivated, talented and driven team I have coached at Emerson," Tassinari said. "This team has played great at home and on the road, risen to the occasion every game and responded to my challenges."

He reasons that a big part of the success has come from seniors Whalen, forward Mal Moretti, goalie Katie Hartman and defender Sara Hogan showing great amounts of leadership, energy and passion for the program. He hopes to send them off with a GNAC Championship to show for their hard work.

"I am so proud of how well they have come together and how consistently focused they've been," Tassinari said. "They have been rewarded for being such a hard-working team all season."

Standing in the way of Emerson's title dreams was a team that has given them trouble before. Emerson lost to St. Joseph's 2-1 earlier in the season, but the Lions were optimistic they would come out on top in Tuesday night's second round contest.

The Lions took control in a competitive rematch on Tuesday, eventually coming out on top with a 3-2 victory that ended in penalty kicks. Goals in regulation were scored by freshman midfielder Caroline Devin and Davidson and penalty kicks were converted by freshman midfielder Lisa Viccione, Whalen, Davidson and sophomore forward Rachel Lerma.

"The atmosphere all game, in overtime, and during the penalty kicks was intense, electric, and very hostile," Tassinari said. "Being on the road and playing in front of their crowd was tough, but my players weren't fazed or intimidated at any point. They stayed on track mentally, dug in, and bent but didn't break."

Emerson will face off against first-seeded Emmanuel on Saturday in the GNAC championship game. They may be the underdogs, but the Lions tied Emmanuel 1-1 in a regular season match-up. Tassinari said that although Emmanuel is strong offensively, Emerson plays great defense and has a good shot at the title.

"The offense must be in a positive rhythm to keep Emmanuel's defense on their heels," Tassinari said.

The tournament winner gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, which Tassinari said has been a goal since day one. The team also has a shot at an Eastern Conference Athletic Conference (ECAC) bid, which, according to Tassinari, would be a first for the program.

"We want to continue to play as deep into November as possible," Tassinari said.