Trailing Johnson State 7-1 at halftime, the Lions did not at all look like a team that had just won five games in a row. The April 11 game was marred by sloppy passes, missed shots and spotty defense and despite mounting a late comeback, Emerson fell short, losing 8-7.
"We didn't know what it was, but it wasn't lacrosse I can tell you that much," said freshman goalie Patrick Curran. "It was a terrible first half. Everyone was to blame. I wasn't making saves, we weren't making shots, it was difficult to find any chemistry whatsoever in the first half."
Curran wasn't the only player who noticed, or voiced this dismay. After a halftime filled with emotional and strategic inputs from coaches and players alike, the Lions were ready for the final 30 minutes of the game, even trailing by six goals. Fortunately for Emerson, it appeared Johnson State wasn't.
The Lions then roared out of the half, pumping goal after goal past the Johnson State defense. Senior midfielder Joe Greaney tallied three goals, while sophomore Josh Anderson chipped in two. Six unanswered goals later, the Lions found themselves only trailing by one with less than three minutes remaining.
"We knew what we needed to do," said Curran. "We started gelling and we ran a different defense. We just started playing as a cohesive unit on both sides of the ball. We were moving the ball and taking better shots, which lead to the comeback."
The Lions came out with a new look a more balanced defense and a more relaxed offense. This scheme was designed to keep pushing the ball upfield, and keep getting chances on net, and that's exactly what they did. The Lions dominated the second half in every facet of the game, clawing their way back into the game.
Unfortunately, just as the Lions sniffed victory, Johnson State snatched it away, netting a late goal to go up 8-6. The Lions were able to come back again within one when junior Roger Tower put in his first of the game, but unfortunately it was too little, too late for Emerson, as their five-game win streak skidded to a halt.
"It was really disappointing," said Anderson, a print journalism major. "I mean there was just such disparity between the two halves that it left me with a melancholy feeling of the game. We came out and we just played terrible. Then in the second half we controlled the ball and played so well. It's just disappointing we didn't come out like we finished."
Despite the loss, the Lions remain in fifth place in the North Atlantic Conference with a 5-3 record. The comeback will also prove as a valuable building block as they work towards the end of the season, as well as the playoffs.
"The comeback was great," said Curran. "We played a great half, but it's 60 minutes of lacrosse, not 30. We lit a fire under our asses and we got going. It proves we can beat a team like that if we show up."
The Lions will be aiming to show up for a full 60 minutes next game, when they take on Mitchell College at home, on April 15. Sophomore Josh Anderson is confident that his team will build off their second-half performance against Johnson State.
"We got some great leadership," said the print journalism major. "Curran showed some great leadership at halftime. He was a big part in getting us to rally back-and to a lot of us it reminded us of what kind of team we want to be for the rest of the season. Now it's all about execution."