A pressure-packed game boiled players’ tempers over, leading to 13 fouls and a card for dissention as both teams grew frustrated with calls.
The Emmanuel College Saints crumbled under the continued pressure applied by Emerson men’s soccer. After a dull 35 minutes to start the game, the action heated up just before halftime.
Midfielder Lucas Parolin scored the first goal of the game on a set piece throw-in that he headed into the net. Emmanuel responded just before the half ended, but the goal was immediately disallowed for offsides. Emerson maintained the lead by staying tight on Emmanuel’s defense, and pulled out a 2-0 triumph.
Pressing Emmanuel’s defense was key as freshman goalie Carter Bowers led his team from the goal box. In the first half Bowers had one save and watched the ball fly past him into his own net, but he said the team was lucky to have the goal recalled for offsides.
“After they called it back, I realized how easily that goal happened and how the game could have been tied up,” Bowers said. “I was very fortunate that they called it back.”
The majority of the first half was played in the midfield as high winds kept the ball off the ground and complicated the Lions’ ability to slow down the Saints. However, the Lions kept the ball away from their side of the field and ended the half 1-0.
At halftime, coach Jared Scarpaci said he emphasized closing down the Emmanuel defense, and he encouraged his players to be aggressive and drive the ball at the back line.
“Pressuring their backs was key,” Scarpaci said. “I didn’t believe that it was going to be a one-goal game, so I told them to come out as a group and really add on the pressure.”
The second half began with two yellow cards as players argued with referees over calls.
“This was a rough and tumble game, it was a dirty game, and we just have to try and keep our heads in the next one,” Bowers said.
Despite the yellow cards and more fouls, the Lions picked up momentum and senior Jacob Lawrence scored the game’s second goal with 20 minutes to go.
The remainder of the game was spent playing the clock, according to Parolin. The Lions guarded Emmauel’s offense closer and ran the players out of bounds, denying their opponents a chance to get back in the game. Emerson’s defense limited Emmanuel to six shots in the second half and kept the ball on the Saints’ side of the field while the clock ran out.
“We didn’t need another goal with 15 minutes left, we didn’t need to score,” Parolin said. “The goal was to be more aggressive offensively and not go to the goal. I didn’t want to risk losing a goal.”
Scarpaci and his players agreed that this game wasn’t one of the team’s best tactically, but because of the team’s relentless play, it was able to pull out a victory.
“I think that was our major strength, that we never gave up,” Parolin said. “We kept adding pressure to their back and we out-hustled them.”
Emerson, now 2-4 in the conference, will take on fellow conference member Norwich University at Rotch Field on Saturday.