By Kevin Saxe
Springfield’s Defensive Focus
The last time Springfield faced Emerson, the Pride defeated the host Lions 2-1 on September 22 in a NEWMAC regular season match. In that match the Lions scored just 3:18 in before the Pride rebounded with two second half goals.
Look for the Springfield defense to get off to a better start this time around. They will look to limit the Emerson team leader in points, Jess Frost. She has 22 points on the season, nearly double the amount her next closest teammate, Paige Haley, who has 12. If the Pride limit Frost, it will force others to step up for the Lions.
Kaleigh Dale’s Pursuit of All-Time Single Season Goal Record
After scoring two goals in Tuesday’s NEWMAC quarterfinal, the freshmen sensation has now scored 16 goals on the season for the Pride. This ties her in third place all time for goals scored in a season and second amongst freshmen.
Dale is just three goals from tying the overall record of 19 goals, set in 1991 and 1992 by Angel Schofield. She is just one goal from tying the freshmen record of 17, set in the inaugural season of the women’s soccer team in 1980.
Who Starts in net for Each Team?
For the Lions, one thing can be guaranteed, there will be a freshman in net. Megan Rose has seen much of the playing time; however, Sofia Giordano started the prior two games before Emerson’s NEWMAC quarterfinal win over Babson, where Rose got the nod. Rose has been the starter all year so expect her to get the nod in this game.
For the Pride, with an exception to the second game of the season, playing time has come from seniors Jackie Davis and Izzy Inglese. Davis has appeared in 13 games and started 12, while Inglese has appeared in six and started five.
Davis has started the last three games, however Inglese was strong in the win earlier in the season against Emerson, making six saves. Based on recent results, expect Davis to get the nod in tonight’s game.
Secondary Scoring Options for Emerson and Springfield
For the Lions, after Frost is Paige Haley with 12 points (six goals) and Veronica Alberts with ten points (five goals). A problem that could occur for the Lions is that after Frost, the rest of the team has combined for nine assists. To be successful, they will need the rest of their players to step up in their playmaking ability.
With a Pride defense that has allowed just over one goal per game, Emerson could become more stagnant if they rely too heavily on Frost.
For Springfield, they have lethal scoring options behind Dale. Both Amanda Wright (nine goals, one assist) and Sara Swetland (four goals, 11 assists) have nineteen points.
After being held without a goal for seven games in the middle of the season, Wright has scored goals in three straight games. If the Pride are able to maintain possession, the opportunities will be there for Swetland, Wright and the rest of the forward/midfield group to score.
X Factor for Both Teams
For both teams coming into the game, one thing to watch for is how experience, or lack thereof, affects nerves on both sides. Emerson handled the pressure well in beating Babson 1-0 in their NEWMAC quarterfinal match, which was their first time winning a NEWMAC conference tournament game in their program history.
Compared to the Pride, who almost annually host at least one game in the NEWMAC tournament, the key is how will the Lions handle the pressure of a semifinal on the road. Knowing they have been here before, will the Pride be able to answer the bell and not suffer a letdown in front of their home fans?
The Pride and Lions will faceoff as part of a men’s and women’s soccer NEWMAC semifinal doubleheader. The men’s team will take on WPI at 4 p.m. before the women play at 7 p.m.
Featured photo courtesy of Jack Margaros