Pride women’s soccer started off the season to a program best 6-0-0 record. They had been breezing past opponents, until they fell to Emerson 2-1 on Saturday.
The Pride found themselves down early in this one. Emerson applied quick pressure on defense and ended up with an opportunity to score only 2:29 into the first half. Paige Haley of Emerson raced to a loose ball near Springfield’s net and tucked the ball away in the back of the net for the first goal of the game.
Springfield didn’t get down on themselves after giving up the early deficit. Not even a minute after Emerson took the lead, Springfield’s Nikki Kerr fired a shot straight at Emerson’s goalkeeper Mary Elizabeth Allen which she was unable to handle. The ball bounced back to Springfield forward Dakota Kelly and she shot the rebound past the Allen. Just like that, the score was 1-1 only 3 minutes and 29 seconds into the game.
This quick offensive surge by both teams came to a halt as the game remained tied for most of the first half. Emerson ended the slow back and forth action when Haley created problems for Springfield again, this time assisting on a goal scored by Jess Frost with only 19 seconds left in the first half making it 2-1.
Springfield head coach John Gibson said that he told his team at halftime to change their mentality.
“We were losing too many challenges because Emerson played a physical game,” said Gibson. “We aren’t a physical team but that’s what we needed to be in order to succeed in the second half.”
The Pride seemed to take something away from Gibson’s halftime words as they played much better in the second half. They outshot Emerson 11-0 and possessed the ball on their opponent’s side of the field for the majority of the last 45 minutes.
Both teams had their chances to score in the half early. Eight minutes into the half, Haley looked to wreak havoc once more as she had a wide open field with only Aly Morell of the Pride to stop her from getting a clear shot at the goal. What looked like to be an easy scoring opportunity turned into a stellar defensive play by Morell as she used her body to angle Haley away from a shot and then stealing the ball from her.
Gibson said that the play in the second half was much better than the first.
“We had one golden opportunity in the second to tie it up, but unfortunately the ball hit the post.”
Moments after Morell’s excellent defensive play, the Pride used quick passes to storm down the field leaving Kim Quiles with a nice opportunity at a goal. She chipped the ball to the left of Emerson’s goalie and the ball slowly trickled toward the net until it hit the post creating a sound goal scorers hate to hear.
Even though the Pride had 11 shots in the second half, most of them either missed the goal or made for easy saves.
Gibson gives the Lions a lot of credit.
“Emerson worked incredibly hard. They were organized and had a legitimate striker threat that really hurt us.”
Although Emerson was a tough opponent, Gibson was unsatisfied with how his team played as a whole.
“Losing at home is disappointing”, Gibson said. “But more importantly, it was disappointing knowing we didn’t play to our full ability.”
Coach Gibson added, “I thought we played much better in the second half but we shouldn’t have to wait until we are down 2-1 in the second half at home to play to our full potential. If we can learn from this, we should be fine. We are not suddenly bad after one bad loss.”
The Pride remain a top team in the NEWMAC conference with an overall record of 6-1-0 and a conference record of 1-1-0. Springfield will host UMass Dartmouth Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Coach Gibson wants his team to make better choices, move the ball quicker, and win the physical challenges.
“Overall, we need to pick it up a notch in order to bounce back and win Tuesday.”