SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. - Sophomore Amanda Benavente banked in a free kick in the 62nd minute to lift Emerson College to a 2-1 win over Mount Holyoke College in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) opener for both squads. With the victory, the visiting Lions move to 4-2-0 (1-0-0), while the homestanding Lyons are now 2-3-0 (0-1-0).
As the play rushed down into the MHC end, Emerson was awareded a free kick off a called handball on the Lyons. Positioned just outside the box, Benavente (Boca Raton, Fla./West Boca Raton Community) sent the ball sailing over the Mount Holyoke wall, as it banked in after clanking off the left post and in.
Mount Holyoke had a number of chances over the final 30 minutes of play, including a point-blank shot by junior forward Hannah Finn-Erb (Northampton, Mass./Northampton). With less than twent minutes on the clock, Finn-Erb crashed down the middle with the ball. Lions first year keeper Sophia Giordano (Alamo, Calif./Acalanes) was on point, deflecting the close shot out of danger to maintain the visitors advantage.
The Lions nearly had a third tally in the second half, as senior forward Paige Haley (San Diego, Calif./Cathedral Catholic) stuffed in a pass from sophomore midfielder Modesty Sanchez (Lakewood, Calif./Gretchen Whitney), but the goal was waived on an offsides call.
Emerson was the first to light up the scoreboard at the 7:52 mark of the opening half after a strange series of events in front of the MHC goal. Haley started the play, passing the ball to junior forward Veronica Alberts (Half Moon Bay, Calif./Saint Ignatius College Prep) in the middle. Her shot sailed off the crossbar, catching Lyons keeper Amanda Manaster (Beverly Hills, Calif./Beverly Hills) in the back of the head as it caromed out into the air. An MHC defender attempted to head the ball out of danger, but first year forward Grace Cosgrove (Sherman Oaks, Calif./Notre Dame High School) was there to fire in the loose ball to the open left corner.
The homestanding Lyons answered in the 26th minute as a free kick from senior captain Dale Leonheart (Petaluma, Calif./St. Vincent de Paul) just inside the MHC defensive zone sailed downfield and toward the Emerson box. Finn-Erb got ahead of two Emerson defenders, staying onside to send a shot straight in to the left corner.
Giordano earned her first career win for Emerson, stopping three shots in the second half. First year Megan Rose (Danville, Calif./San Ramon Valley) started the first half of action, allowing just one goal with two saves. For MHC, Manaster shouldered the loss with 10 stops.
Mount Holyoke returns to the pitch on Tuesday in a 4:30pm match at Wesleyan. Emerson is back in action on Wednesday, traveling to Trinity for a 6:30pm contest.