The long-awaited return of fall sports

By Tyler Foy, Sports Editor

The last conference game any Emerson fall sports team played was on Nov. 9, 2019. After nearly 22 months for almost all fall sports squads, the teams are preparing for their first season.

Fall athletes have sat out on the sideline for the longest offseasons of their careers—watching an entire season of their collegiate career without even a glimmer of hope of getting out on the field. Now, with games cleared for this fall, they are excited to return and bring their teams to new heights. 

Women’s soccer center-midfielder, Grace Cosgrove, a senior, said the soccer team is excited to get their fall season underway after such a long delay. 

“Everyone is super eager to continue playing, working as a team and win some games,” Cosgrove said in a phone interview.

The women’s volleyball team concluded their last season as the runners-up to the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference championship.  Junior libero Andrea Mendez, who spent the 2020-21 school year at her home in Puerto Rico, said the return to the court has been rejuvenating. 

“It’s very surreal,” Mendez said over the phone. “To not only meet new people on the court but also just getting back into the rhythm of things.”

Sophomore Maisy Mure, who has never competed for the women’s cross country team, said getting out on the practice field for the first time this fall was a big moment for the team. 

“It was the perfect weather,” Mure said in a phone interview. “I think everyone was happy to be back together and excited for the upcoming races.”

Many returning players lost a year of their collegiate athletic career, making this final season that much more meaningful. 

“I’m so thankful that [the season] is able to happen because with COVID I know that our seniors last year were unable to get their senior season,” Cosgrove said. “It’s really awesome that I’m able to play and that we’re almost back to normal.” 

Senior men’s soccer forward, Will Dean, lost his freshman year to a concussion injury. Leaving him with just his sophomore season to date. He looks to make the most of his situation.

“The opportunity to try to get the most out of the season,” Dean said over the phone. “Ideally focusing on the team first and then as a player second. Really push myself as far as I can go and see where that takes me.”

New head men’s soccer coach Daniel Toulson said the younger players on the team, like sophomores who lost their first season, have created an ambitious climate at practice. 

“A lot of those [underclassmen] have come from very good training environments in high school and club,” Toulson said in a phone interview. “I would say the atmosphere on the field is getting really competitive, it is kind of a competition for every spot and then off the field, the team spirit and camaraderie has been at a really high level.”

Despite not performing in her first season, Mure said that she felt comfortable at practice.

“Everyone’s just excited because since we’re all in the same boat we all get along really well which is nice,” she said.

 Mendez said all the memories of the women’s volleyball team’s successful 2019 season came rushing back the first time she stepped on the court this fall. 

“I’m really pumped for this season, because it feels like the first time,” Mendez said. “I feel like we have a really good chance of making it really far this year.” 

This year’s men’s soccer recruits possess unique skill for their age and experience level, Toulson said. 

“We have seen exciting talent on the team, potentially one of the best groups we’ve had over the last four or five years,” Toulson said.

The women’s soccer team is also brimming with new talent, and Cosgrove believes the recruits will be able to perform at as high a level as their more experienced teammates. 

“I’m very confident of everyone’s abilities,” Cosgrove said. “We’re working as a team really well so I’m confident what we can do, and even though [underclassmen] may be younger, they don’t hold themselves any younger, they’re very skillful.”

The experience for teams on the field will be different than the last time they were allowed to compete as the Athletics Department has barred visiting fans from attending games until at least Sept. 17. Only Emerson students, faculty, and staff will be allowed at games. 

“It’s a little upsetting,” Mendez said. “I remember my first year my mom and my uncle they came over and it was really nice to have their support. It’s going to be tough this first month, because we don’t have that family support. I bet a lot of the girls would love to have their families there.”

 Cosgrove said the women’s soccer team will be ready to make any adjustments throughout the season, as the team just wants to compete. 

“Having to wear masks in the locker room and on the bus or not being able to eat on the bus is a totally do-able thing,” she said. “If that’s what needs to be done to play, our whole team is definitely for that.”

Toulson said that the men’s soccer team will be continuing to better their play and to take it game-by-game after such a long delay. 

“Our expectations are more relative to the culture of the program and then definable intangible targets,” Toulson said. “Expectations are that we overall continue to develop identities and program. And then we’ll kind of assess every game.”

Mendez said she believes this year’s women’s volleyball squad could outperform the successful 2019 run. 

“I think we all kind of radiate positivity this year,” she said. “And our goals are really to win the NEWMAC Championship, and make it to the NCAA.”