When the Boston University Men’s Soccer team took the field for warm-ups prior to Tuesday night’s contest against the Northeastern Huskies, nobody – not even Head Coach Neil Roberts – were prepared for how the game would unfold in the opening half.
Just 33 minutes after the opening kickoff, the Terriers (2-1-0) led 2-0 while the Huskies (1-4-0) were forced to play with nine men as two of their players had already been ejected after receiving red cards. BU would go on to win the penalty-laden game, defeating their cross-town opponents, 3-0.
“I didn’t expect that, obviously,” said Roberts. “There was no real flow in the second half. After two red cards I’m sure the ref was trying to keep control of the game, so every time somebody went near somebody it was a yellow card.”
Penalties sure were the theme of the game as nine cards were issued in the affair along with numerous stoppages for a double-digit amount of fouls. Five of the seven yellow cards were given to Terriers as some of BU’s most influential players found their names in the referees notebook by the game’s end.
“We used more players because of the score and because I told them ‘anyone who gets a yellow card, they’re coming out,’” said Roberts. “I was worried about guys getting a red card.”
While no Terriers received reds, two Northeastern players were ejected from the game – and received one-game suspensions in accordance with the NCAA’s red card rule – before the game reached the halfway point.
In the 28th minute sophomore defender Moustapha Samb slid for a contested ball along the right sideline directly at midfield. According to head referee Sean Regan, Samb went into the slide with both feet high and with his spikes up – an offense warranting a red card that Roberts described as the correct, but seldom called, decision.
Five minutes later the Huskies would lose another vital member of their team, this time Khesanio Hall – a senior forward who has spent time playing for the Jamaican National Team. Hall was sent off for a far more blatant infraction when he kicked out the feet of Terrier defender Adam Skeikali after Skeikali had dispossessed the striker deep in the BU zone.
With Northeastern’s lethal scoring threat in the locker room for the rest of the contest, the Terriers opened the second half swarming, looking to put away the Huskies by pushing the NU deficit to three. Freshman Matt McDonald would deliver the final blow just eleven minutes into the second half by heading home his first collegiate goal.
“It was just a great feeling, a weight off my shoulders,” detailed McDonald, beaming from ear to ear as he described his tally. “[We wanted] to keep possession, but go forward and attack. We didn’t want to lay off the gas, we wanted to keep going at them, and put in a few more goals.”
McDonald was one of four freshman to appear in the game for the scarlet and white as Coach Roberts used the two-man advantage to get additional playing time for some of the younger members of his squad.
“I thought Jasper [Verplancke] did well,” said the 32-year head coach. “Obviously [McDonald] getting a goal, playing up front – he looked more comfortable up front than he does on the flank. Jerry [Ozor] I think has been struggling a little bit for us. We’ve got to get him consistent because he was good the other day [against UMass] and with the situation today he should’ve been good today with all the space that was out there. And Satchel [Cortet] has been very steady for us.”
Though the rookies shined for BU, it was two reliable sources that resulted in goals for the Terriers as both senior Felix De Bona and junior transfer Anthony Viteri both recorded goals just 14 minutes apart in the first half.
De Bona opened the scoring by sliding a shot past NU’s Matt Dabrowski after cutting in towards goal in the 18th minute. Viteri doubled the BU lead in the 32nd minute after receiving a pass from Magnus Benediktsson and ripping a goal off of his right foot from 12 yards out. Benediktsson assisted on both markers.
After taking both games in their first home stand of the season, the Terriers will have a tough matchup when they travel to Princeton for a nationally televised game with the Tigers on Friday, September 16.
“Can we go on the road. . . .can we move the ball and do what we want to do over there?” questioned Roberts. “That’ll be the test. Last time we went there we didn’t do well. It’ll be on national TV, it’ll be a great atmosphere, it’ll be a good opportunity for the guys. Is the moment to big for them or can we play our game and put on a real good show?”