strongIan Brophy, Beacon Correspondent/strong
A year after making it to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) semifinals, Emerson’s men’s soccer team has a roster that features 11 freshmen. As the team looks to build off last year’s successes, head coach Jared Scarpaci faces the task of dealing with many new players.
On Saturday, in the team’s first GNAC game of the season, Scarpaci’s Lions learned that soccer is a game of two halves.
After playing an even first frame and heading into the locker room tied 1-1, the Lasell Lasers commanded play in the second half and cruised to a 4-1 victory over Emerson.
The Lasers got off to a fast start, dominating possession for the first 15 minutes with a sustained attack commanded by sophomore central midfielder Nery Guerra. Dominating the ball early on, Lasell got off to an early lead.
Emerson responded by dictating the pace of the game for the rest of the first half. The Lions spent the next half-hour coming forward earning some scoring opportunities.
One near miss came in the 21st minute when Emerson striker Jacob Lawrence, a junior, smashed the ball over the frame with a wide-open net in front of him after the goalie was drawn out of position.
Emerson kept pressuring the Laser’s defense and capitalized soon after the Lawrence miss. That was when senior Juan Ossa’s deflected free kick was headed into the goal by Emerson defender Ken Nikravesh, who both play through the ProArts Consortium.
The score came after a foul by a Lasell defender 25 yards from the goal set up Emerson. Ossa took a shot that deflected off a wall of Lasell players, sending the ball to Nikravesh who leaped over a defender to get his head on the ball for his first goal of the season.
Nikravesh was busy in the first half, scoring a goal, and also clearing a ball off Emerson’s goal line in the opening moments of the first half to keep the Lions’ deficit at one.
Going into halftime, the Lions had tied the score, but still had 45 minutes left to play.
Coach Scarpaci said the Lions’ first-half play was exceptional, but giving up goals early in the second half was the deciding factor in the game.
“When they score in the first five minutes of the half it really takes the momentum away,” Scarpaci said. “We were not as dangerous as we needed to be offensively.”
That score came in the opening minutes of the second half as Lasell’s Dan Gleason used fancy footwork to dribble through two defenders. A third defender tried to knock the ball off Gleason’s foot, but the Lasers’ defender calmly chested the ball down and slammed a shot from 25 yards away into the back of the net.
“I knew it was going in right away; I didn’t even watch it go in because I turned around right away,” Gleason said.
Only moments after the goal Emerson’s Glen Picco and Lasell’s Jacob Allen, who scored the opening goal of the game, were shown yellow cards for shoving each other following a series of rough challenges by Picco.
Ossa described the young team as losing focus in the second half.
“Its just a matter of experience and I think loss of concentration in the second half,” Ossa said.
The Lions’ lack of focus was at the forefront when, only a minute and nine seconds after conceding their second goal, Lasell struck again. Emerson failed to clear an Evan Gaccione corner kick in a confusing moment that ended up with the ball in the Lion’s goal. Gaccionewas given credit for the Lasers’ second goal of the half after his corner kick sailed into a group of Emerson players and was deflected into the back of the net.
Emerson spent the majority of the next 26 minutes on its heels trying to defend against waves of attacks led by Guerra.
After the game, Scarpaci acknowledged his young team still has some work to do.
“We are making rookie mistakes by rookies,” Scarpaci said. “Our rookies are learning by the mistakes and that’s the most important piece.”