Cambridge, Mass. – Merricka Livingstone set up Emily Kuo for the opening and closing goals in a 3-1 victory over the Wheaton College Lyons on Saturday at Roberts Field. Lauren Hernley headed in the game winner in the sixty-eighth minute to give the Engineers the victory in a decisive contest between arguably the two best teams in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC).
It took Kuo only 1:53 to give MIT the lead. The junior forward took a pass from Livingstone and made a nice turn to give herself some space before curling in a beautiful goal from the top of the box. MIT took the 1-0 lead into the locker room at half, but could hold it for only 12 minutes.
Wheaton threw everyone forward at the beginning of the second half and won one of their five corner kicks, which Kristina Braga curled in and found an unmarked Colleen Liffers. The Wheaton senior buried the open header into a gaping net for the equalizer. The tie would last for the next ten minutes.
The Engineers, who had three corner kicks of their own, used one such opportunity to grab back the lead for good. Connie Park picked up her third assist of the season when the captain Hernley got her head to the ball and finished it high into the Wheaton goal.
Kuo, who had come off the pitch with a leg injury just minutes after scoring the opening goal, returned to the lineup after half-time and played sporadically during the second half. She was on long enough to seal the game in the 82nd minute by sliding the ball past Kerry Condon and into the far side of the net from about 25 yards away. The helper again came from Livingstone, her third of the season, while Kuo now has 9 goals, tied with Hernley for second on the club.
The game was a back and forth affair, with pockets of pressure from each team and other moments when defensive lines dug in and played possession soccer. The counter-attacking nature of the contest led to a flurry of shots, with the hosts having an 18-16 advantage. Wheaton fired 10 shots in the first half, while MIT dominated the second frame with 14 shots.
Both goalkeepers were kept busy and MIT's Meghan Wright was sublime, making seven spots including a point-blank stuff of Wheaton's Rebecca Raymond with six minutes remaining in the game. Wright also dove out of the goal to swipe up a ball from Emily Hough, who was looking for Wheaton's top scorer Cassey Muse late in the first half.
Kerry Condon made four saves for the Lyons, who lose just their second game of the season, but fall to 3-2 in the conference. MIT has now won four straight games, improving to 10-2 on the season and 4-1 in the NEWMAC. The Engineers host Salem State College on Wednesday in a non-conference game, while Wheaton will welcome in the Bowdoin Polar Bears.