By: David Souza
BOSTON — For the third time in four games, the Boston University Terriers (5-2-1) shut down their opposition en route to a hard earned victory on Wednesday night in a 1-0 win over the UMass-Lowell River Hawks (5-4-0). What started out as a rather slow paced affair turned out to be a competitive back-and-forth contest where the two teams combined for a total of 27 shots on the evening.
The lone goal of the game came off of the right foot of Terrier midfielder David Amirani early in the second half. The 6’ 5” sophomore took the ball down the left side of the pitch and waltzed in towards the box. Amirani found space and fired a shot in what looked like an attempt to simply put the ball on net, but ended up being the game-winner for BU as it redirected off a Lowell defender before plopping down behind the left shoulder of the River Hawks’ Austin Kroll.
On the defensive side of the ball, redshirt-junior goalie Matt Gilbert earned his eighth career shutout by stopping all three Lowell shots on frame.
“[Gilbert] had to make a couple of big saves today, he did a good job with that,” said BU Head Coach Neil Roberts. “He’s managing the game, which is really good for a college goalkeeper.”
Gilbert’s biggest save came in the 30th minute of the match when he had to make a full extension dive to his right to stop a Edward Venta-Yepes shot. Venta-Yepes used his quick footwork to weave his way through two BU defensemen before firing a shot from space that would have given the River Hawks the early lead had it not been for Gilbert’s outstretched fingertips.
The first-half was slow for the Terriers, as they failed to get anything going offensively. While they had one quality scoring chance when Lucas McBride was mere inches away from heading a Troy Phoa cross past a helpless Kroll, the majority of the Terrier offense was stagnant in the first half. McBride and the Terriers made some adjustments during the intermission.
“We understood that [UMass Lowell] was dropping back a lot,” said McBride. “We needed to just slow it down and reset. We were playing at their pace, which is not how we usually play. The adjustments were more mental.”
That halftime tactical changes and mental preparation paid instant dividends for the Terriers as they came out firing on all cylinders in the beginning of the second half. BU’s intensity continued to stay at peak levels, even without the presence of junior back David Asbjornsson, who was given the second half off due to the Terriers’ tough string of four games in nine days.
One who did not see a lot of time off the field was Asbjornsson’s fellow Icelandic countryman Magnus Benediktsson. The freshman midfielder logged 62 minutes against UML, building off of his career high 66 minute game against Bucknell and his two 40 minute games against Princeton and Harvard.
“Magnus is a good player, he goes at people and puts defenses under pressure, which is something that Anthony [Viteri] and T.J. [Butzke] do as well,” said Roberts.
While the Terriers kept up a seemingly constant offensive barrage in the second half, their defense appeared to began to sit back in the last twenty-five minutes of play. In the 75th minute, the River Hawks’ Nana Osei broke down the right sideline unopposed before being challenged by the goaltender Gilbert. Osei attempted to fire off a shot, but could not cleanly do so while Gilbert was there to make the save and keep the rebound out of harms length as well.
Three minutes later, Jacob Fitzgerald took an open pass at the top of the BU box, but fortunately for the Terriers, he fired his shot high above the crossbar.
The River Hawks then followed Fitzgerald’s missed opportunity with another, this time off of the foot of Wuilito Fernandes. The Cape Verdean was streaking down the far sideline and ripped a shot from about 35 yards out in an attempt to catch Gilbert off guard. Fernandes’ shot beat a diving Gilbert, but caromed off of the right post to give the Terriers a fantastic break.
Lowell was finally quieted in the 90th minute, when sophomore defender Adam Sheikali stole the ball from Fernandes as the junior forward was orchestrating what would be the River Hawks’ last offensive chance.
The Terriers will be back in action this Saturday as they travel to Washington D.C. to take on Patriot League heavyweight American University.