By: Dave Souza
As the Boston University Terriers Men’s Soccer team took the field on Saturday afternoon against American University, they were welcomed by a scene of rain, wind, and biting cold on Nickerson Field.
Looking for their first win since September 20 over Brown University, the Terriers entered the contest with high hopes and high expectations. BU also came into the game looking to enact some vengeance after falling to American in last year’s Patriot League semi-final. Despite the extra motivation, the Terriers woes continued as they fell to American 2-0.
“The conditions had nothing to do with it,” Coach Neil Roberts said. “I think they were just more aggressive than we were, they were tougher than we were; all the individual battles – or most of them – they won. Every individual battle they pretty much won in the midfield.”
Fresh off of battling through a scoreless first half, the Terriers entered the second half looking to capitalize on opportunities after missing multiple chances in the opening 45 minutes. However, it was the Eagles that came out hot as American opened the second half with the game’s first goal in the 50th minute.
The play began off of a BU turnover just past midfield that the Eagles possessed before pressing into the Terrier zone. A series of tic-tack-toe passes placed the ball right at the foot of senior midfielder Panos Nakhid who deposited a shot in the back of the net.
“I think the disappointing thing was the midfield,” Coach Roberts admitted. “We got beat in the midfield. . . .we’ve got to get more physical, which means pressuring and winning individual tackles and battles.”
After putting the Terriers on their heels, American pressed further and dictated the pace of play for the majority of the second half. And while senior goalkeeper Matt Gilbert was called on to make 10 saves in the contest, he could not keep the Eagles at bay all game.
American broke through a second time in the 71st minute when senior striker Joe Iraola chipped a ball past Gilbert to take a 2-0 lead. The goal was Iraola’s sixth of the season and was the result of a cross-field pass from Nakhid that Iraola flipped over a diving Gilbert from 10 yards out.
“Gilbert’s being left alone out there, it’s a shame,” Roberts said. “We’ve got to straighten it out and we got to be a little tougher. Right now I would say we’re probably soft.”
Though the Terriers had numerous chances in the first half, they were unable to convert on open shots before the American defense tightened down in the second half and kept BU off the board.
Freshman Matt McDonnell almost broke the scoreless tie in the first half after taking a pass from Felix De Bona after the striker blocked an American pass at midfield, however his shot rolled just to the left of the net. De Bona also sent an open shot just to the left of the net in the 23rd minute after taking a pass from Anthony Viteri on a two on one.
The Terriers will now try and regroup as they take on Patriot League opponent Colgate Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Nickerson Field.