Coming into Saturday’s match-up against the Albertus Magnus College Falcons, the Emerson men’s soccer team knew it had its work cut out.
Though head coach Jared Scarpaci called Saturday’s performance against the Falcons the best he’s seen from his young team all season, the Lions were downed 4-2 by their undefeated opponents.
The Emerson men, who suffered their first loss since Sept. 6, started to come together and play as a unit against a formidable team that is ranked first in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference.
“I thought our intensity was high, the highest it’s been this season,” said freshman goalie Carter Bowers. “That’s how we have to play every game but … I can’t give up four goals. That’s on me, and I just have to improve on that.”
The Lions quickly fell behind 2-0 in the first half after a pair of goals by Albertus Magnus’ Nick Hamasian, both of which resulted from a lack of coverage on corner kicks. Emerson controlled the ball for most of the first half, but was unable to break through the tough Falcon defense, which used its speed to bother the Emerson forwards.
“We needed to mark on the corner kicks better, but in the first half we did well,” Scarpaci said. “We won the first half in possession, but not on the scoreboard.”
The team had a noticeably different tempo in the second half. Just four minutes into the period, freshman forward Adam Halliday delivered a booming strike for a goal that put the Lions on the board.
“We came out with a little bit of fire, we really stuck to the game plan,” said Scarpaci. “They [the players] are getting it and it showed.”
But the fire was dampened a bit when Albertus Magnus countered with a chip shot goal that bounced off Bowers’ hands. After three successive saves by Albertus Magnus’ goalie Donato Piroscafo, Emerson’s Jonny Havens finally burst through with a goal in the top left corner of the net.
“I think [our energy] was great, especially in the second half after we got the second goal,” said Havens, whose goal was his third in as many games. “We were playing intense.”
The Lions also caught some tough breaks, including a potential equalizer from freshman midfielder Alex Van Pelt in the 78th minute that clanged off the post. Seven minutes later, Albertus Magnus’ Alex Zapata was able to tap a goal in after a shot glanced off the post bounced away from Bowers’ outreaching grasp.
“We gave 110 percent,” said Halliday. “We were just pretty unlucky … I think we had the better of the play in the most of the game. It was a good effort.”
After the game, the Lions had plenty of praise for Albertus Magnus, who moved to 6-1 on the season and maintained an undefeated conference record.
“They came out, they knew what they wanted to do and they executed on free kicks,” said Bowers. “I thought we did a really good job of playing up to their level, but at the end, they just finished a little bit better than we did.”
Even though the Lions couldn’t pull off the upset in front of an energetic crowd with over 40 soccer alumni for Emerson’s homecoming weekend, players remained optimistic.
“They’re a good team,” said Halliday. “They’re one of the best teams in the GNAC, and we wanted to test them today. I think we did, and hopefully we can both keep on playing well, and we’ll see them in the playoffs.”
Emerson, who is 2-4 on the sesaon, will now face three consecutive road tests, including conference matches against Saint Joseph’s College and Johnson & Wales University.
Scarpaci said he wants to maintain a positive view going forward into a crucial portion of the schedule.
“I think we can do something,” the coach said. “That was our first conference game. I wish we had won, obviously, but I’m excited.”