strongIan Steele, Beacon Correspondent/strong
On Saturday, the seniors of the Emerson men’s soccer team stepped onto Rotch Field with one obstacle standing between them and their first home playoff game — the Johnson and Wales Wildcats.
While Emerson was in command of second place in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC), the Wildcats were sitting in ninth, on the outside of the playoff picture, fighting for their postseason lives.
A Wildcats win would have dropped the Lions into a tie with St. Joseph’s (Me.), Emerson’s next opponent.
But with a home playoff game on the line, seniors Ken Nikravesh, Cory Walls, and Noah Price took initiative and and booked the Lions for a first-round home game.
Emerson used two first-half goals from Nikravesh and Walls along with strong play in net from Price to defeat the Wildcats, and held on to its number two ranking in the GNAC standings with a 2-0 win.
After falling to UMass Boston 5-0 the game before, the Lions were forced to regroup and prepare for an important GNAC tilt.
“We took the positives we could from the UMass game and tried to turn it up considering this game counted a lot more than that game did,” said Nikravesh.
Nikravesh set the tone for the Lions, scoring in the seventh minute against the Wildcats. Jacob Lawrence sent a cross toward the net, where the ball met Nikravesh, and from there met the lower left corner of the Wildcats’ goal.
The second and final goal of the game came off Walls’ foot. In the 29th minute, Walls used his swiftness to outrun a host of Wildcat defenders. A cutback by Walls sent the goalkeeper to the turf, and with an open goal, Walls rolled the ball into the lower left corner.
The goal was Walls’ third of the season, and gave Emerson a 2-0 lead.
On the defensive end of the pitch, goalie Price had a tremendous game in net, saving every one of Johnson and Wales’ six shots.
Despite an 0-4 start to the season, men’s soccer continued to battle. The team’s balance of experience and youth has resulted in an 8-7 overall record, and a 6-3 record in conference.
“In the beginning, it was up to the seniors to show these young guys how to play Emerson soccer where the speed and ferociousness is much higher,” said Price.
With leadership trickling from the top down, the Lions have put themselves in a favorable position. Sitting in the top half of the GNAC playoff table, Emerson will host a quarterfinal game Sunday, against the sixth seeded team.
It’s been a case of tough luck for the Lions on the road in the postseason, as each of their past three playoff losses have occurred on the road. These games include the 2008 and 2010 quarterfinals, and the 2009 GNAC Championship.
“That trip alone takes an extra toll, so the more home games we can play, the better,” said Price.
emSteele can be reached at email@example.com./em
strongem- Playoffs Update – /em/strong
With the number two seed in the GNAC on the line, the Monks of Saint Joseph’s (Me.) traveled to Boston and defeated Emerson’s men’s soccer team 1-0. The Lions are now locked into the number three seed, and will open the GNAC playoffs at home at Rotch Field. A 57th minute goal by the Monks’ Zach Johnson was all the scoring on the day. Saint Joseph’s outshot Emerson 16-8 on the game, and 10-2 in the second half as the Monks pulled away.
– emEvan Sporer, Beacon Staff/em