By: Akshai Wadhwani November 11, 2017
BALTIMORE, Md. — Holy Cross goalkeeper Bobby Hurstak had not seen a single minute of playing time all season long. That changed in the Crusaders’ Patriot League semifinal matchup with the Boston University men’s soccer team on Friday evening.
After starting keeper Henry Stutz spent all 90 minutes of regular time and both overtime halves between the sticks, Hurstak was abruptly called upon for the ensuing penalty shootout — and promptly proceeded to end BU’s season by his own hands.
The sophomore saved Terrier midfielder Satchel Cortet’s opening effort, before then denying BU’s next attempt with a diving save to his left to palm Matt McDonnell’s shot high over the crossbar. Those two stops paved the way for Holy Cross, as they beat Terrier keeper Michael Bernardi four straight times.
After left back Elias Lampis gave BU hope with the only successful penalty on the Terriers’ end, forward Arno Rupp slotted the deciding spot kick down the middle to give the fifth-seeded Crusaders a 4-1 shootout victory.
The dramatic finish was a follow-up to 110 minutes of largely uneventful play. Other than two first-half opportunities for the Crusaders — a left-footed shot from Rupp which clipped the outside of the left post on its way out of bounds, and a looping attempt by midfielder Yuji Callahan that Bernardi tipped over the bar — the match was characterized by stagnant offense. This was not entirely unexpected, as both BU and Holy Cross came into the semifinal round as predominantly defensive teams averaging less than a goal per game.
The Terriers finished the match with five shots on target from 14 total, while the Crusaders posted 11 shots with three on frame. The latter did not allow a single corner kick BU’s way, but also failed to capitalize on eight of their own.
The season for BU men’s soccer thus comes to what Head Coach Neil Roberts and his players will undoubtedly consider a premature end. The Terriers appeared to be the favorites heading into Friday’s fixture, boasting the No. 2 seed as well as a regular season conference record of 6-2-1. However, they met their match in Holy Cross, who displayed a defense rivaling that of BU in its unyieldingness.
These two iron defenses, when pitted against each other, caused the match to be void of numerous scoring opportunities — and with such a premise established, the match was ultimately decided by which team proved more adept at penalty kicks. In that area, the Crusaders triumphed.
Robbed of the Patriot League regular season title by Loyola Maryland and now robbed of a chance to compete for their first ever conference tournament title, BU will finish the 2017 season at 7-8-4 overall with a home record of 3-3-1 and an away record of 4-5-2. Holy Cross, meanwhile, will remain in Baltimore to face Colgate in the Patriot League Final on Sunday afternoon.