It wasn’t the result the Emerson men’s soccer team was hoping for out of its first ever New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference match, but the Lions faced a tall task against the reigning NEWMAC champions from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Saturday at Rotch Field.
The Engineers’ Kareem Itani victimized Emerson just 2:47 into the match for the first goal in a hat trick for the freshman as MIT charged to a 5-1 victory.
“They got some goals on us early,” said Lions head coach Jared Scapaci. “To chase the game like that can be tough, but I was happy with how the guys didn’t give up.”
Emerson freshman Elais Romanos tallied his first collegiate goal in the 83rd minute, a late consolation off a left side cross by classmate Samir Beria.
“I knew it was my job to go to the back post and so I made sure I was there, and once the ball came to me I just took a breath, relaxed, and finished it,” Romanos said. “I’m not used to scoring goals that much, but it felt really good to score.”
Scapaci said Romanos, a second half substitute, normally plays in central midfield, but Romanos had earned playing time, so he gave him a shot playing outside, where the Lions have less competition for minutes.
“He’s really technical and that was a tough ball,” Scarpaci said. “He had to take it down and then he buried it. He’s excellent and hopefully there’s more from him.”
MIT took a 3-0 lead 25 minutes in as Itani got in to redirect a free kick past sophomore Carter Bowers, who made nine saves on a busy day in goal.
“When you play good teams like this, you really have to pressure them early and get on their first touch,” Sparpaci said. “You have to force them to make mistakes because they’re not going to make unforced mistakes. They’re a good team.”
The Lions showed a marked improvement out of the intermission, and Scarpaci said during halftime they pledged to break through with a second half goal.
“The way they came out in the second half, really pressing a bit more, they put us on our heels for some time,” said MIT coach Mike Singleton. “If they can stretch that out over 90 minutes, they’re going to be competitive in every game.”
Scarpaci said that, along with Romanos, he was also impressed by the play of freshman Pat Kudej and sophomore Alex Van Pelt on the defensive end, and junior forward Evan Gooden up front.