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Scituate native balances workload on, off soccer field at MIT

Emily Lydon plays for MIT.

David Silverman

Emily Lydon plays for MIT.

Lydon balances academics, sports

At the Langer Laboratory on the MIT campus, Emily Lydon invests her time, energy, and know-how in designing new vaccine delivery systems for Third World countries.

On the soccer pitch, the Thayer Academy graduate has carved out a key role as a defender for MIT’s nationally ranked women’s program.

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Her life at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a case study in time management: A bioengineering student with pre-med ambitions, Lydon balances a heavy academic workload with the demands of being a college athlete.

“You don’t get much down time,” said the junior from Scituate. “But the team has brought me a lot in the form of academic support. The busier I am, the better I am at making sure I’m doing my work when I’m supposed to.”

A 2011 Thayer graduate, Lydon is a valuable reserve for MIT (5-1-2), ranked 13th in Division 3, providing fresh legs and speed for a defensive unit that has already racked up five shutouts while yielding just four goals in eight games.

Lydon opted for MIT over Harvard for the chance to continue her soccer career at the collegiate level. An outside midfielder at Thayer, Lydon has transitioned to playing left back at MIT. Adjusting to her new role, she saw action in eight games as a freshman and seven as a sophomore. This season, she is a regular off the bench, playing in seven of the first eight games.

“Emily came onto a strong team as a freshman and needed to work to get to the level where she can really contribute, which is common with young players,” said MIT coach Martin Desmarais.

“She has worked hard to get stronger and faster and it paid off for her this year. When Emily goes into a game now there is no drop-off in skill level. She is a great example for the younger players that hard work pays off.”

Lydon also has the advantage of being a left-footed kicker, somewhat of a rarity for a player at the Division 3 level. Desmarais takes advantage of Lydon’s speed on the left side to mark the opponent’s fastest player.

“I usually go into the game at the second part of each half to provide a good bit of speed that can start to be lacking on that side as the game goes on,” said Lydon.

“I’m good at tracking, especially if we have a right outside forward that is quick, because I’m pretty fast and I’m in good shape.”

On a typical school day, Lydon is in class by 8:30 a.m., works in the lab for a few hours, tackles her homework, attends practice, has dinner, and then hits the books to study.

“There isn’t a lot of time for sleep at MIT,” she said, noting that bus rides to games often provide time to study and sleep.

Lydon is currently conducting vaccine research at the Langer Lab. She has also conducted research at the Steele Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Describing her work on vaccinations, she said: “Instead of having to get multiple booster shots, you’d just get one injection and then it releases in bursts later so you don’t need multiple injections.

“We’re working with a polio vaccine that you usually get when you’re born, at 2 months, and at 4 months. We’re making a delivery system so you only have to get it at birth. That will be helpful in developing countries where your only chance for medical care is usually at birth.”

While her career focus is on attending medical school after MIT and becoming a doctor, Lydon also wanted to continue playing soccer after high school.

“I was deciding between MIT and Harvard and when it came down to it, soccer was a plus for MIT,” she said.

“I wasn’t ready to give that up. It’s a lot of work managing both, but everyone is in the same boat here. When we have long bus rides on road trips we make sure we have Wifi to get work done on the bus. It brings a sense of camaraderie to the team.”

Here and there

Freshman goalie Joe Cohen is having a major impact on the men’s soccer team at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. The Plymouth South graduate was named Player and Rookie of the Week in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference after stopping 20 of 21 shots during a 2-0-1 week for the Buccaneers.

Cohen made seven stops in a 2-1 victory over Salem State, the Bucs’ first win over the defending MASCAC champs in nine years. He also recorded six saves to post the shutout (1-0) in the academy’s first victory in 23 series meetings against rival Coast Guard. He added seven more stops in a 1-1 draw with unbeaten Nichols. Cohen is 3-0-1 with an 0.54 goals against average for the Bucs (4-0-1). Sophomore Nick Parker (Plymouth) scored the game-winning goal against Salem State. The Bucs are captained by senior back Stephen Machaby of Rockland and senior back Daniel Riley of Hanover. . . .

Former Wheaton College lacrosse standout Billy McNamara (Mansfield) has been named an assistant coach at Roger Williams. A 2013 Wheaton graduate, McNamara ranks second in program history with 218 points (112 goals, 106 assists).

“I think it’s always exciting as a coach when one of your student-athletes stays involved in the game and Billy is no exception,” said Wheaton coach Jamie Lockard. “Billy has a great passion for the sport of lacrosse and an extensive knowledge of the game.”

A three-time lacrosse captain, McNamara studied abroad in Bhutan in 2012 and taught physical education for children with physical and mental disabilities.

John R. Johnson can be reached at jjohnson49@comcast.net.

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