strongEvan Sporer, Beacon Staff/strong
As the Emerson men’s soccer team warmed up before its game against Wheelock College on Monday, Jacob Lawrence already looked sharp. Playing in a drill with his teammates, Lawrence slipped the ball between the legs of a fellow Lion and then sidestepped another, drawing a chorus of “oohs” from the Emerson brass.
It was only a sign of things to come.
Lawrence netted two of the Lions’ five first-half goals, as Emerson went on to rout the Wildcats by an 8-0 final.
Lawrence, who led both Emerson and the entire Great Northeast Athletic Conference in scoring last season, had yet to score in the Lions’ first eight games of the current campaign.
As Lawrence prepared during the warmup with his Lions’ teammates for their upcoming match against Wheelock, the Berklee College of Music junior was able to look at a familiar face on the sideline — his mother.
A Clifton, Va. native, Lawrence said his mother was attending her first Emerson soccer game.
“It’s pretty big. She hasn’t seen me play at the collegiate level,” Lawrence said. “I’m glad she was able to come. I wanted to score for her.”
Lawrence said both of his parents were regular fans at his games throughout his life and having his mom on the sideline gave the game a self-described old time feel.
It was a formula for success, as Lawrence finally got off the scoring snide, putting his first two goals of the season on the board.
“Everyone was telling me I had to score,” Lawrence said. “They were saying this was a good game to get the tally going.”
Indeed it was. Emerson scored eight goals against the Wildcats, who fell to 0-5 on the season and has lost to its opponents by a combined score of 53-3 in those five matches.
Lawrence’s coach agreed.
“He needed that, and I think it was special because his mother was in town,” said head coach Jared Scarpaci.
Emerson got on the board only 94 seconds into the game, as Juan Ossa found a loose ball off a corner kick and flicked it past Wheelock keeper Sunshine Shearer.
Things would not get much brighter for Shearer and the Wildcats.
Eight minutes later, John Havens lofted a ball into the Wildcats net to double Emerson’s lead.
Lawrence then scored his first of the day to make it 3-0. With Emerson in cruise control in the 25th minute, freshman Evan Gooden scored Emerson’s fourth goal — only 33 seconds after Lawrence’s tally — on an absolute blast.
After receiving a back-heel pass from Cory Walls, Gooden hit a one-time shot with the outside of his right foot that rocketed into the top of the net.
“Coach has been emphasizing that slot right by the 18 [yard box],” Gooden said, who scored from the right flank after finding space in the Wildcats’ defense.
The Lions fielded a mix-and-match lineup against Wheelock. With Emerson’s sweeper Ken Nikravesh nursing a sore knee, freshman Patrick Lowndes moved from right defense to play in Nikravesh’s normal role.
“That’s actually my natural position,” Lowndes said, adding that he played that role for the last two years of his high school career. The freshman said it felt great to see his coach entrust him with the role, especially since Nikravesh is a senior.
“To be honest, I wish Ken was a freshman like me. I wish we would have him for three more years, but I’ve got to look forward to games like this,” Lowndes said.
Still, the night belonged to Lawrence. With about 20 minutes to go, and a goal short of a hat trick, Lawrence was substituted, ending his night. As he walked off the field, Lawrence stopped to count the Emerson players on the pitch, making sure his team had 11. As the referee shooed Lawrence off the sideline with his flag, it marked the first time all day anyone was able keep him at bay.
“I just wanted to get out and keep playing, and get some of these guys in position to get on the score sheet,” Lawrence said, who said he was not looking to finish out his hat trick.
And as for the pregame nutmeg, Lawrence said there are no hard feelings among teammates.
“They should all learn a lesson from it,” Lawrence said with a smile on his face.