Lions ready for playoffs

That game lingers in the back of the minds of this year's squad as it enters into the 2005 playoff run.,”Last year ended hard for the Emerson College women's soccer team, as a crushing 1-0 overtime loss to Western New England College in the semi-finals of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) tournament marked the end of the 2004 season.

That game lingers in the back of the minds of this year's squad as it enters into the 2005 playoff run.

"I know for a fact this team is hungry to do more than what they did last year," said Head Coach Jason Tassinari. "This team is not satisfied."

Following an impressive regular season where the women's soccer team went 10-4 overall, and 5-3 in its conference, the Lions will get another crack at the GNAC tournament starting Saturday. Moreover, if they win the GNAC playoffs, they will continue to the NCAA tournament.

"We are going into this year's playoffs thinking it's not going to come down to overtime," said Lions' Co-Captain Tina Danforth. "We are going to play each and every minute like it is our last."

The Lions travel to Johnson & Wales Saturday for their first playoff game, regardless of the outcome of today's match against Southern Vermont. The team is 2-2 in the previous four contests.

Winning three games would put the Lions through the GNAC tournament and into the overall NCAA contest.

The women's soccer team has made strides this season in the opponents it has defeated.

A win against MIT on Oct. 20 at Rotch Field was the first defeat of the Engineers in the history of the Emerson women's soccer program. A header by Casey Whalen off a corner kick was all the Lions needed that day.

"I told the team after we beat MIT [that] all we need to do is go on a five-game winning streak," Tassinari said. "If we do that, we will be in the NCAA tournament."

Tassinari was impressed with the outcome as Emerson won the game, 1-0.

"We played our best soccer of the season that night," Tassinari said. "It came at a time you hope it leads to more success, and we can build on that."

The win gave the Lions their 10th victory of the season-the second straight season they have recorded double digits in wins. The constant factor in all those decisions has been sophomore goaltender Katie Hartman, Danforth said.

Hartman had a strong 2005 season, holding the opposition scoreless seven times and posting a 10-4 record. Arguably her biggest win of the season, and the team's gutsiest effort, was against playoff-bound Emmanuel College on Oct. 5, according to Tassinari.

As a team, the Lions rallied for a huge win that day against the Emmanuel Saints. Down 1-0 early, Emerson came from behind to notch a victory at Winsor Field, the same place where the Lions suffered a devastating loss to defending GNAC champion Simmons 11 days before.

"I think that was a shining moment for this team," Tassinari said. "We hadn't been playing well up to that game. It was a conference win, a come-from-behind win, and a win where everyone contributed to it."

The most important games of the season, however, have yet to come.

"Our goal is to bring it a little bit further [from last year]," Danforth said. "We have the potential to go to the final round [of the GNAC championship], if not the NCAA tournament."