strongEvan Sporer, Beacon Staff/strong
After the captain of Emerson’s women’s soccer team, Meghan Foehl, rifled a shot past Rivier College goalkeeper Christine Surber, she spun around and embraced teammate Carmen Trobaugh.
Foehl leapt into her teammate’s arms, and was soon after met by her fellow Lions. Goal celebrations are common in soccer, but for this team, it took them a while to earn the right to revel.
Now they can’t stop scoring.
After dropping its first three matches of the year, fielding makeshift lineups to compensate for injuries, Emerson’s women’s soccer team won its second straight game this past Saturday, and its second straight Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) game, defeating Rivier 2-0.
With a small roster — lacing junior forward Amy Gutierrez for the team’s first three games — head coach David Suvak welcomed back Gutierrez as well as four new players through the ProArts Consortium before a Sept. 14 match against Pine Manor.
Against Pine Manor, Emerson did not wait long to start the celebrating. Only four minutes into that game, Trobaugh scored to break a scoreless drought that had lasted over 274 minutes. Up against Rivier on Saturday, Emerson again did not wait long to grab the lead, as Foehl’s goal came two minutes into the game.
“It makes it a lot easier,” said Emerson defender Kara Pantano of establishing an early lead. “It’s not like we can rest, but we have that security knowing the goal is there. We also pick up our intensity knowing we can’t give up a goal and let them tie it up.”
But quickly, Emerson added another goal, again off Foehl’s foot. In an eerily similar play, Trobaugh played a ball to Foehl, who took it in stride, and weaved through Rivier defenders. With only the goalkeeper to beat, Foehl stayed composed and lofted the ball into the top-right corner.
Again Foehl found Trobaugh in her post-goal jubilation, and Emerson found a 2-0 lead it would not relinquish.
“We’re 2-1 in the conference now, and that’s a pretty good place to be early in the season,” Foehl said.
Pantano and the defense recorded its second consecutive shutout. But Pantano said the defense has been doing much more than sitting back in its third of the field.
“I think the game against Pine Manor was actually a really good test for us because we were actually able to push up and score goals rather than being stuck back the entire time,” Pantano said, who scored against Pine Manor.
For Suvak’s team, it has almost been a tale of two squads. In its first three games, Emerson went winless, losing by a combined score of 11-0. Since then, it has turned the table on its opponents, winning its last two contests and outscoring its opponents 10-0.
“We gained a lot more players. Just knowing we had numbers to come off the bench really helped our confidence,” Foehl said. “Obviously you’re playing hard for 90 minutes. But to just know you have that depth on the bench if need be, I think that was helpful.”
Freshman goalkeeper Allie Altman recorded her second straight shutout. Altman recorded seven saves versus Rivier, including a number of acrobatic stops in crowded corners to keep Emerson ahead.
“I definitely go for the shutout every time,” Altman said.
Emerson’s conference schedule will continue this Saturday at Norwich. For the time being, Suvak said he is happy to see his team performing well against GNAC rivals.
“It means a great deal,” said Suvak. “We struggled last year to get wins in our conference, and then they started to come late in the season. So, this is a bit of a change for them.”
emSporer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ev_sporer. /em