Women’s soccer team celebrated locally, nationally


Danny Kennedy

The Lions advance to their first NEWMAC Championship in program history.

By Abigail Lott

Emerson women’s soccer team earned lots of praise this week from both the NEWMAC and NCAA Division III. 

The Lions ranked 24th in Division III by the United Soccer Coaches’ latest poll released on Oct. 18, largely due to their upset of the 14th-ranked MIT Engineers on Oct. 15. 

Each week, United Soccer Coaches —a global soccer coach organization —votes on the top 25 teams in Division III soccer. Last week, Emerson placed 24th in the division and first in the United Soccer Coaches’ Region Two rankings, which includes several Massachusetts schools.

“It’s the highest ranking we’ve had in Emerson history, so I think that this is a really special team,” graduate forward Caitlin Johnston said. “[Coach] Suvak talked about how long he’s been waiting to build this team up […] I think it’s really nice we’re finally getting that recognition.” 

The Lions’ 1-0 victory over the highly-touted conference rival was credited to the team’s strong defense and the winning goal by junior forward Brittney Righetti. Righetti also scored two goals in a 3-1 win against Wheaton earlier in the week and was honored as NEWMAC Offensive Player of the Week of Oct. 10. Sophomore defender Yoshiko Slater received the title of NEWMAC Defensive Player of the Week that same week. 

“Those are both big wins for us, she put in game-winners in both, which was super important,” said Head Coach David Suvak. 

Slater held an ultra-competitive Engineers team scoreless, commanding the other defense and being in the right places at the right time.

“We had an entire team that really needed to defend well for very long periods of time, and Yoshiko was a standout for us,” Suvak said.

The win against MIT brought much joy to the Lions and showed that their hard work all season was paying off. 

“Everybody was really excited about the win,” Suvak said. “It was a lot of hard work to try to accomplish that, but great for the team and the program. The players really wanted to accomplish something this weekend and they were successful.”

The Lions have gotten off to a strong start, with a record of 8-3-4 overall and 5-1-2 in the NEWMAC. Suvak said the team culture has been vital to Emerson’s success. 

“The players get along and treat each other with respect off the field and on the field,” Suvak said. “They have learned to compete within the team environment, the practice environment, in a very respectful and strong way, knowing that they are still friends at the end of the day.” 

Johnston, who joined the team as a graduate student during the offseason, agreed with Suvak. 

“I think we can bond over the fact that we play a very similar style where it’s just quick possession-based,” Johnston said. “We can really come together in that sense and work well together.” 

When asked about games that have been important this season, Suvak identified the Lions’ draws against UC Santa Cruz and Babson, as well as the recent win over MIT. 

After their game against MIT, the Lions dropped their game on Wednesday in a 2-0 home defeat to Clark University and tied 0-0 against Wellesley on Saturday. Suvak said the plan for the remaining two games of the season is to play one game at a time. 

“That’s how we’ve been doing it all season,” Suvak said. “We have a tactical plan we’re going to try to use to solve the problems.”

Johnston has a more ambitious goal for the rest of the season. 

“I want to get to the playoffs, get a win, and hopefully win the conference,” she said. 

The team will finish its regular-season games at home against NEWMAC opponent Springfield College on Oct. 29.