Lions not quite at home in the NEWMAC: A year in review

by Samuel Evers / Beacon Staff and Claire Nobles / Beacon Staff • April 30, 2015

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Emerson is still seeking the same success from the NEWMAC that it had in the GNAC.
Emerson is still seeking the same success from the NEWMAC that it had in the GNAC.

It has been a unique year for Emerson athletics: it (finally) managed to release its first logo, three teams made the playoffs, and the department introduced its new director, Patricia Nicol. Unfortunately for the Lions, who had struggled last year, their first in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference, teams still stumbled in their second year. Of the two teams that made the NEWMAC playoffs—men’s volleyball made the Great Northeast Athletic Conference playoffs—neither made it past the first round. We witnessed a few upsets and many more disappointments. Here’s a look back.

 

Most memorable moment?

Men’s soccer showing up fashionably late to the NEWMAC point party. “After 13 games, two overtime periods, and more than 1,170 minutes of gameplay in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference, it finally happened,” the Beacon wrote on October 29. “For the first time in a NEWMAC game, the Lions did not lose.”

It may sound a bit harsh in hindsight, but it was the truth, and it was a big deal for the Lions.

NEWMAC soccer is among the most competitive of all conferences in Division III, with teams regularly being nationally ranked, and a double overtime tie against Clark was certainly a baby step in the right direction for the men’s soccer program. Perhaps it will pick up its first NEWMAC win next year, but for now, a full-time coach would suffice.

 

Toughest losses

Both the women’s volleyball and lacrosse teams put themselves in great positions to advance to the postseason for the first time in the NEWMAC. What happened next? Well, it didn’t end in either team’s favor.

Going into the last week of the season, the women’s volleyball team had a 4-3 record in conference. Due to three consecutive defeats to close out the season—including a five-set loss to Clark University—the team squandered a chance at its first playoff berth in the NEWMAC. It finished the season with a 15-17 overall record, the first time the program finished under .500 since 2006.

After women’s lacrosse’s handy 15-7 defeat of Wellesley College, the Lions evened their record to 3-3 in conference and looked like they were about to punch a ticket to the playoffs. However, a close 9-6 loss to Mount Holyoke earlier in the season came back to haunt Emerson when the tournament seeds were announced. Despite Mount Holyoke’s worse overall record, the two teams had the same NEWMAC record. Since Emerson lost the head-to-head matchup, the Lions found themselves out of the playoffs for the second straight year.

 

Athletes we’ll remember

Though the men’s volleyball team still plays in the GNAC (the NEWMAC doesn’t include the sport), the conference is stacked in terms of talent, as several schools cracked the national rankings throughout the season. This makes juniors Jackson Wiley and Jared Gross’ first team all-conference recognition—a first for Emerson’s program—even more impressive. Wiley’s 4.35 kills per set were second in the nation, and Gross’ 3.29 digs per set were good for fifth. Despite being bounced from the first round of the playoffs, these two players will make the team one to watch next year in their senior seasons.

 

Most improved

Women’s basketball: In its 2013-2014 season, the squad went 8-17 overall and 4-16 in the NEWMAC, failing to make the postseason. This year, the team improved to 12-14 and 6-10 in conference, good for the seventh seed in the tournament.

 

Most regressed

Women’s tennis: The team’s 2013 season wasn’t spectacular, but it managed to snag two NEWMAC victories en route to a 3-8 overall record, 2-6 in conference. The program this year severely struggled, losing every single match—Theresa Nelson’s singles victory against Clark University was the only set win of the season.

 

Avoided worst record

It would be tough to justify working a baseball moment into the end of the year superlatives, but it’s worth mentioning the Lions won their final game of the year and avoided tying their worst record in program history. They finished 2-27, but the team can at least boast a NEWMAC win in each of its first two years.