Paige Haley and Jess Frost aren’t just soccer teammates. After the final seconds tick off the game clock, the two forwards head back to their residence hall at Emerson College, where they are suitemates. Both hail from the state of California, and grew up playing soccer.
“We’ve bonded a lot, and so I think that definitely helps us on the soccer field to connect with one another,” Frost said.
The two are topping the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference, or NEWMAC, leaderboards in non-conference play. Haley is fourth in the league with seven goals scored, while Frost is tied for fifth with six tallies. Haley and Frost said, however, that it’s all about contributing to the team effort.
“[My teammates] put me in good positions to be successful, and they always set me up very nicely,” Frost, who is tied for second in the NEWMAC in assists with three, said.
Haley and Frost have played competitive club soccer in the past—they said sometimes even against each other—which both said helped them adapt to the Lions' style of play. Frost said that seeing college teams for the first time, as opposed to the familiarity she held with players on opponent club teams, has been a new challenge.
“We trained really hard over the summer,” Haley said of her club team. “The [playing] level of the girls that were on my team made me better.”
On the field, Haley shows great determination, navigating through traffic to create opportunities in front of the net. Frost, meanwhile, sometimes commands the offense with the ball in her possession.
While that confidence no doubt stems from Frost’s early success, having scored in six of the team’s first seven games, she has also been well-educated in the game from the day she was born. Both of her parents were Division I college soccer players at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her father went on to play professionally, she said.
Her number 13 jersey pays homage to her mother and father, both who wore the number in their playing days.
Senior captain Tayllar Righini, a communication science disorders major, said the addition of the girls and the team’s freshmen being well-prepared when they reported to preseason practices gave her a preview of things to come.
“After the first practice, everybody knew immediately that we were going to have an awesome season,” Righini said.
Head coach David Suvak, who is in his fifth season with the team, credited Emerson’s recruiting process, which he said spans the entire country in search of talent like Haley and Frost.
“I’ve had an opportunity to have a vision of some of these kids, and what they can do to the program,” Suvak said.
Junior captain Natalie Benjamin, a marketing communication major, welcomed the addition of Haley and Frost.
“It’s nice to have girls come in that know how to play, and play the style that we’ve been wanting to play on the ground,” Benjamin said. “If we keep getting more girls like this that came in, I can only imagine where we’ll be in the next couple years.”
Having the two freshmen account for 13 goals has strengthened the team’s rotation, allowing veterans to be better rested when their opportunity arises to enter the game. Senior captain Mollie Coyne, a marketing communication major at Emerson, said time spent on the bench has been less stressful thanks to the strong play of Haley and Frost.
“It’s nice to be able to have a break and get off the field and regain my composure, and know that we have these two amazingly talented forwards up there doing their job,” Coyne said.
Thanks in part to the contributions of Haley and Frost, the team is well-positioned as conference play begins. With a 7-0-1 record, and having outscored opponents 42-5, the team’s expectations are high for the remainder of the season. Haley said it will take a team effort to continue on such a run.
“We definitely don’t do it alone,” Haley said. “It starts from our defense, which is really solid, and our midfield, which is also solid, and they make us look good.”