WPI engineers late goals to oust visiting Lions

WORCESTER – After securing the program’s first ever New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference win two Saturdays ago, the Emerson women’s soccer team was in the mix late against a top NEWMAC opponent this past weekend in Central Mass. against Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

The Lions came out attacking in the first half, but head coach David Suvak said his team “ran out of juice” in the final 45 minutes, giving up two goals within four minutes late in the second half to fall, 2-0, to WPI on Saturday, Oct. 5.

“I think that the team performed very well in the first half,” Suvak said. “I think our speed of play could have been a little bit faster than what it was, but we were doing pretty well. The second half, our pace of the game slowed down.”

In a late afternoon match that followed a men’s loss to WPI by the same score, Emerson (6-6, 1-2) sputtered out in the second half, managing just two shots after the break, highlighted by sophomore Alyssa Giannone’s 66th-minute attempt.

“We’re slowly building up,” said freshman midfield starter Natalie Benjamin, who played in high school a town over at Shrewsbury High. “Game by game we’re getting better and better at connecting and playing our game. We’re getting there.”

The host Engineers (8-3-1, 2-2) outlasted the Lions, finding the back of the net off a corner kick in the 71st minute and then doubling their lead four minutes later.

“They did a really good job scouting us,” said WPI head coach Steph Schafer. “The first half, they definitely had our number in terms of going to the ball.”

Senior goalie Marissa MacDonald made six saves in her fifth start this season, but let in the first WPI goal off a right side corner by Megan Forti. Natalie McMillan banged in a header to put Emerson in a 1-0 hole. 

“We’re having trouble at the moment coming back from being a goal down,” said Suvak, whose team has scored just three times in its last six games, going 2-4. “I would like this team to score early and I think we would have more success.”

WPI sophomore Emily Doherty sent the Engineers to a commanding lead at 74:20 with a low shot into the left corner.

Doherty took possession after Emma Turton carried the ball down the right sideline all the way from midfield, finally sending it into the box to bounce around.

Along with Giannone’s late try, junior Tayllar Righini had the Lions’ only other strong look at goal, but sent it at the Engineers’ senior captain in net Maddie Willer (six saves) on an open look in the box in the 52nd minute.

Suvak said he thought Righini was Emerson’s best player against WPI, but he was also impressed with center back Samantha O’Donovan’s communication in organizing the Lions’ back line.

Emerson has a full six days off, its longest stretch between games of the season, before returning to action at home against Smith College at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12.

“We have a light week ahead,” Suvak said. “We need to get healthy. It’s a groin pull here or shin splints there and those things are factors in their performances.”