The Emory University men’s and women’s soccer teams ended their regular season with games against the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Yellowjackets on Nov. 5. Both games began in high spirits with senior day celebrations and ended with late goals that earned the men a 1-1 draw and a 3-2 win for the women.

Gomez leads Eagles to senior day draw

The Yellowjackets put the Eagles under pressure early in the first game of the day. Strong defensive play from senior defender Luke Price and junior defender Jake Atallah kept the game level until Rochester sophomore midfielder Nate Lazzara scored from close range in the 28th minute.

The opening goal sparked life into the Eagles’ attack. Junior forward and midfielder Alex Mills delivered a series of dangerous crosses, but the team struggled to convert them. Rochester junior goalie Santino Lupica-Tondo made an acrobatic save seconds before halftime to deny senior forward and midfielder Joe Beare a tying goal, leaving the Eagles scoreless heading into the break.

In the second half, the Eagles struggled to find a way past the Rochester defense. The breakthrough finally came with less than three minutes remaining on the clock. The Rochester defense retreated to the top of their 18-yard box, creating space for senior midfielder Alejandro Gomez to tie the game with a long-range strike.

With little time remaining to respond to the Eagles’ equalizer, Rochester threw all their energy into one attack. A Rochester forward found himself alone in the box on a break away play, but junior goalie Peter Wagner rushed out and blocked the shot in the final seconds.

The men’s team ended the 2022 season with a 5-8-5 overall record and placed seventh in the University Athletic Association (UAA) division standings. 

Despite the “tough” season, Gomez said that he is optimistic that the younger players will continue to raise the program’s intensity and competitiveness standards in the years ahead.

“Qualifying for the NCAA Tournament is obviously the goal every single season,” Gomez said. “I think it’s slowly starting to become an expectation for the program . . . and the young guys overall are going to do a really good job with that.”

Seniors on the women’s soccer team pose for a picture before their senior day matchup against the University of Rochester (N.Y.) on Nov. 5. (Courtesy of Riley Brackin)

Women’s soccer secures NCAA Tournament bid

After consecutive UAA losses to Carnegie Mellon University (Penn.) and Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) last weekend, the Eagles got back to winning ways against the Yellowjackets.

Senior forward Riley Brackin opened the scoring in the 17th minute. Brackin controlled a cross from senior forward Kylie Hall and slotted the ball past Rochester goalie Grace Kuropatkin, giving Hall her 14th assist of the season, breaking her previous high.

Brackin acknowledged the team’s excellent build up play leading up to her goal.

“[The goal] was a team effort,” Brackin said. “It wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Kylie Hall’s cross and our team working the ball up the field toward the goal.”

Graduate midfielder Mara Rodriguez doubled the lead for the Eagles in the 53rd minute with a powerful shot reminiscent of Gomez’s in the game prior, but the Yellowjackets soon gained momentum. Junior forward Claire Grover took advantage of an opening in the Eagles’ defense to score in the 64th minute, and sophomore midfielder Natalie Kocsis’ shot 16 minutes later tied the game at 2-2. 

The Eagles pushed for a winning goal in the final 10 minutes of the game. Freshman forward Michelle Davidson drew a foul inside the box and the Eagles were awarded a penalty kick. Hall withstood the pressure, scoring the winning goal with her fourth successful penalty kick of the season to put the Eagles up 3-2.

The win improved the Eagles’ overall record to 12-4-0. The team’s 5-2-0 conference record placed them third in the UAA standings. 

The Eagles were one of four UAA teams to receive bids to the 2022 NCAA Division III Women’s Soccer Championship. They will host the Piedmont University (Ga.) Lions in the first round at the Woodruff Physical Education Center on Nov. 12 at 1:00 p.m.

The Eagles defeated Piedmont earlier this season during an impressive 10-game win streak. The final 1-0 scoreline was not reflective of Emory’s dominance of the game in which they outshot the Lions 42-3.

According to Brackin, Piedmont is “no team to be slept on” given that they beat Maryville College (Tenn.) to win the Collegiate Conference of the South Tournament Championship.

Brackin said that she hopes the Eagles’ big win against Rochester will provide the team with more momentum heading into their first round matchup. 

“We have a strong team and we can make it very far this year,” Brackin said. “I think every team member has that mentality and we’re all excited for what’s to come.”