By: Matt Doherty
BOSTON — Through the first 492 minutes of the 2017 season, the Boston University men’s soccer team was unable to find the back of the net.
The lack of scoring resulted in five consecutive losses to begin the season, one of the roughest stretches in head coach Neil Roberts’ 33-year tenure.
But in Saturday’s match vs. Harvard, senior Adam Sheikali’s goal in the 43rd minute finally broke the long-awaited scoring drought and propelled BU to a 1-0 victory over their cross-town rival at Nickerson Field.
Roberts said he’s been preaching patience to his team during the losing skid. On Saturday, that patience finally paid off.
“I knew we’d score a goal this year, I just didn’t know when,” Roberts said, laughing. “We don’t care about the record right now, we just want to make sure to get our game where we want it to be. Let me worry about the record.”
Despite the five-game losing streak, the young Terriers have shown improvement in each of their last few matches.
Last week at UMass, BU dropped a tough 1-0 match thanks to an opposing penalty kick.
Roberts said he was pleased with the team’s practice this past week and he came into Saturday’s match with confidence that his team would snap out of their funk.
“We felt confident,” Roberts said. “Harvard’s a good team but we fought hard.”
The two sides provided a physical and chippy match. BU recorded four yellow cards while Harvard notched one.
In the 78th minute, three yellow cards were handed out to three separate players in a box scrum.
Harvard outshot BU 6-5 in shots, but the Terriers won in the shots on goal department, 3-2.
The Crimson nearly took the lead in the opening 20 minutes when a shot nailed the crossbar over the reach of BU goalkeeper William Bonnelyche. However, with just minutes remaining in the first half, Satchel Cortet sent the ball into the box off a free kick, where Sheikali gathered it and sent a bouncing shot past Crimson goalkeeper Matthew Freeze to put the Terriers up 1-0.
BU dominated on the defensive end in the second half by controlling the ball and not allowing Harvard to create any opportunities on their end.
The only chance the Crimson had to tie the game came in the 90th minute, but as the ball trickled toward the goal line, the officials blew an offside whistle unofficially securing the win for the Terriers.
While the goal served as the bright spot of the game, the BU defense continued to shine.
“We did a good job defensively,” Roberts said. “That’s what we want our identity to be. We want to be good defensively. Goals will start to come. We have some players that will create some goals.”
Although the Terriers finally snapped their scoreless streak, Roberts emphasized the team still has a lot of work to do.
“We’re not where we want to be yet,” Roberts said. “We’re a young team trying to get better. It was a good sign of battle and fight tonight.”
Up Next: The Terriers welcome another Ivy League opponent to Nickerson Field on Tuesday when Princeton comes to Boston. Kick-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.