Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Women’s soccer looks forward to NEWMAC title defense

Arthur Mansavage
Senior forward Gina Lukoskie (#15) against the Smith Pioneers on Saturday, Sep. 16.

Post-Tropical Cyclone Lee was not the only storm brewing over Massachusetts over the weekend—defending NEWMAC champion Emerson women’s soccer team began conference play against the Smith Pioneers on Saturday, hoping to improve on their 1-4 record.

The Lions tied with Smith, 0-0, in their first of a three-game homestand. They moved to 1-4-1, hungry to recoup next week.

1-4-1 is a far cry from last year’s 12-4-5 squad, but some slippage is to be expected when a team turns over quality players like All-American midfielder Cali Bruce ‘22 and fifth-year forward Caitlin Johnston. 

Junior defender Yoshiko Slater said that despite the turnover, the team aims to defend their NEWMAC title and advance beyond the first round of the NCAA tournament, when they fell to Westfield State, 2-1.

“We want to go even further than we did last year, and I know we will do that,” she said.

Regarding key strategies for the season, Head Coach David Suvak viewed the team’s goals “in steps,” finding ways to win from the regular season to each round of the NEWMAC tournament.

Suvak also touched on what the team has done to prepare for their title defense—notably with their challenging schedule.

“We decided to build a very out-of-conference, strong schedule and put this team under a lot of pressure in the first five games,” Suvak said. “[It was] in hopes that we were getting ourselves prepared to play at a faster pace, to play a little more aggressive, [and] find ways to compete against some of the top teams in the country.”

Slater said that while Saturday’s result was not the one the team wanted, she has seen plenty of growth from the preseason to now.

“Have we improved since the preseason? Yes. But I know we are better than this,” she said. “We all know we can do better, and we are going to get better.”

“We are heads-and-tails [better] than what we showed today, and we will show in the future what Emerson soccer is.”

Slater added that the team focused on physical fitness since last Spring.

“We worked hard to be physically fitter, not only sprinting but long-distance—everything in the game,” she said. “We generally make sure we take care of our bodies and each other mentally and physically.”

In addition to an increased emphasis on fitness, senior goalkeeper Ava Salti is optimistic about the team’s turnover and the chance to craft a new identity.

“We can make ourselves our own team, give ourselves our own identity and have different leaders and different people [taking] on different roles,” she said. “That’s been the message. Keep getting better every single day, and keep building ourselves into our own team and defend that title.”

That message permeates the team, whether with the experienced veterans or first-year players.

“Even though we have different roles, everyone feels as much a part of [the team],” Salti said. “We all feel like we have something to prove every single day. It makes it that much more important, worthwhile, and purposeful.”

Salti also mentioned the strong non-conference start was an opportunity to identify aspects the team can build upon.

“That early in the season, that’s the goal—to keep getting better,” Salti said. “The games didn’t go our way, but we were definitely using them to learn and to get ready for conference play.”

Referring to an October interview with the Beacon, Salti echoed her message of “buying in” as the key heading into the rest of the season.

“[We’ve] all got to buy in and use every day to keep getting better,” Salti said. “We have our sights on not only winning the NEWMAC again and getting to the tournament, but we want to win the first tournament game in program history.”

“That’s the goal and we believe in it,” she continued. “It makes it that much more enjoyable to keep showing up every day and getting better with each other.”

The Lions’ next game is against Mount Holyoke on Sep. 23 at 1:00 PM.

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About the Contributor
Jordan Pagkalinawan
Jordan Pagkalinawan, Managing Editor
Jordan Pagkalinawan (he/him) hails from Burbank, California, and is the Beacon’s Managing Editor for news and sports. A junior journalism student with a minor in Sports Communication, Jordan previously served as the Kasteel Well Bureau Chief, sports editor, and staff writer. Outside of Emerson, he has interned with the CBS Sports Editorial team and currently writes for Last Word on Sports and YRMedia. When Jordan isn’t working on a story, you will find him either playing basketball, listening to music, reading multiple books, or buying a cup of coffee.

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