Fans flock to quarterfinals

Emerson students showed their Lion pride at the men’s basketball team’s quarterfinal loss to conference rival Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Feb. 25.

About 40 fans, including many student-athletes, traveled across the Charles River to support the Lions in their second consecutive New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference postseason appearance.

Junior Cassie Tatomir, who plays on the women’s soccer team, said many basketball players went to her games this season, so she wanted to repay the favor.

“[The athletic department] is a really tight-knit community,” said the marketing communication major. “It’s nice to see all the teams be successful.”

As the Lions pulled within four points with 2:17 remaining, Emerson students stood to cheer on the team.

When MIT faced Emerson at home during the regular season, 200 fans were in attendance, according to the athletics website.

Senior Jennifer Zarate, who isn’t a student-athlete, said she made the trip because she’s friends with many of the players.

“It’s been a great experience following their games throughout the season,” said Zarate, a journalism major. “They made it to the [postseason], so it’s important to go all the way and support them.”

The game was played at MIT’s Rockwell Cage, which is accessible by public transportation. According to Matt Ulrich, the department’s director of media relations and associate head coach for men’s lacrosse, fans may be able to forgo the MBTA for future playoff games.

“As we look at how we’re going to make athletics better,” said Ulrich, who is an Emerson graduate, “we want to get our fans involved more and get more of the student body involved in being our fans. We would definitely look at things like shuttle buses.” 

Tatomir, whose team plays its home games at Rotch Field and Playground, said school-provided transportation would increase support for athletes.

“It would be great to have more ways to get to games,” she said. “It’s really hard to play a game without any fans.”

The Lions were the fifth and final playoff seed the last two years in the NEWMAC, which would mean no home court advantage if they made it past the first round. The last time they played a home playoff game was in their last season in the Greater Northeast Athletic Conference in 2013, a quarterfinal loss to Saint Joseph’s College.

Though the team will have to wait another season for another shot at its first NEWMAC playoff win, fans still left happy.

“I’m really proud of them, honestly,” Tatomir said. “It was really cool to see everyone come together and support them.”