By: Akshai Wadhwani November 11, 2017
This year’s season came to an end for the Boston University men’s soccer team on Friday evening, when they battled Holy Cross to a goalless deadlock through 90 minutes of regular time and two overtime halves, before losing the penalty shootout, 4-1. That defeat signaled their exit from the Patriot League tournament at the semifinal stage.
The result means that the Terriers are still in search of their first ever Patriot League tournament championship. Despite having qualified for the playoffs for four straight years since joining the conference in 2013, BU has only made the final once. That appearance was in 2014 — the same year they won the regular season title — when they lost to Bucknell, 3-2, in overtime.
This year’s postseason disappointments, however, do not cancel out the fact that the Terriers had a remarkable season. After starting the season with five consecutive losses in which they failed to score a goal, BU rebounded back with a 1-0 victory over Harvard before winning four of its next six matches.
Starting with a 2-0 road triumph over American, the Terriers also put together a four-match win and shutout streak in Patriot League play. The impressive comeback allowed BU to finish second in the conference standings, with a 6-2-1 league record accompanying a 7-7-4 overall record.
Over the course of the season, the Terriers outshot their opponents 206-188, with 10.8 per match and a 0.383 SOG percentage. They averaged just under a goal per game, scoring 18 on the year; defensively, they recorded seven shutouts and allowed their opponents less than ten shots per match. Additionally, BU’s 24 goals against was the fourth-lowest total in the Patriot League.
In a compliment to the team’s success, several individual Terriers also won Patriot League accolades. Goalkeeper Michael Bernardi, center back and co-captain Adam Sheikali, and winger Toti Knutsson were all named to the All-League second team; Knutsson was the only freshman to receive the award. BU also saw full back Elias Lampis, midfielder Peter Kargbo, and forward Matt McDonnell receive spots on the All-League third team.
Points: Toti Knutsson
Icelandic freshman Toti Knutsson established himself as one of the Patriot League’s breakout stars this season. Knutsson notched three goals and five assists for a team-high 11 points. He will clearly be a dominant force on the pitch for BU in years to come.
Goals Scored, Shots and Shots on Goal: Matt McDonnell
After missing several matches early in the season due to injury, sophomore Matt McDonnell returned to the BU starting eleven and made an immediate impact. The forward led the Terriers with four goals while also adding an assist. Characterized by his aggressive and physical play, McDonnell additionally led BU in shots (30) and shots on goal (11).
Assists: Toti Knutsson & T.J. Butzke
Two players played chief provider for BU this year with the aforementioned Toti Knutsson and junior midfielder T.J. Butzke both recording five assists. As the go-to option on the flanks, Knutsson earned his top spot with pinpoint crosses as well as dangerous corner kick deliveries. Butzke, meanwhile, once again distinguished himself as a clinical passer in the central midfield role after finishing second on the helpers list last season. After a quiet first half of the season, the veteran Terrier exploded with three assists in two matches before posting his second multi-assist game of the year in BU’s 3-1 victory over Army.
Saves: Michael Bernardi
After not seeing action as a freshman, Michael Bernardi returned this year to replace the graduated Matt Gilbert as BU’s starting goalkeeper. In the end, the sophomore had to compete with his counterparts, William Bönnelyche and Bjorn Kammholz, for the number one spot; however, with 13 starts this season, Bernardi still led the Terriers in saves with 36 and recorded six shutouts.
Boston 2, Haitian National Olympic Team 2 (Exhibition Match)
The Terriers had the privilege of facing professional opposition early on in the season, when they welcomed the Haitian National Olympic soccer team to Nickerson Field for an exhibition match on September 3. Amidst fluctuating rainfall, BU battled the Haitians to a 2-2 draw. Eric Mubang, who scored his first goal of the year in the match, declared afterwards that, “It was an experience I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”
Boston 1, Harvard 0
The Terriers finally ended their goalless 0-5 start to the season with a 1-0 win over Harvard at Nickerson Field on September 16. Adam Sheikali scored the lone goal of the match as BU held the Crimson to just six shots with two on target.
Boston 2, American 0
In their opening Patriot League fixture, BU shut out American for a 2-0 road victory. Matt McDonnell scored his first goal of the season less than five minutes into the match, and Eric Mubang contributed an additional strike just after halftime. The win confirmed that the Terriers had exited their slump from the start of the season and were now back in full form.
Boston 2, Lehigh 0
On September 30, the Terriers pulled off an incredible upset on the road against Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks were, at that point, at the top of the Patriot League with a five-match win streak in place along with an average of almost two goals per match; they also had the then-league leaders in both goals (Mark Forrest) and assists (Doyle Tuvesson) among their players. BU, however, was undeterred, shutting out the hosts alongside goals from Toti Knutsson and Mana Chavali. The Terrier defense performed admirably under the enormous pressure of Lehigh’s 15 shots and 10 corner kicks. BU went on to win its next two Patriot League fixtures.
Forward Esen Harris made three appearances for 34 minutes as a freshman, helping BU to two wins. After missing out on action his next two years with the team, Harris returned this year and played in two nonconference matches for the Terriers; he also appeared in BU’s 3-0 win over Holy Cross and the regular season finale against Colgate. Though it will unfortunately not count towards his career statistics, Harris scored one of BU’s two goals in the 2-2 draw with the Haitian national team as well.
In his first year at BU, midfielder David Amirani made 20 starts in as many appearances, recording four goals and two assists to earn himself All-League second team honors. In his sophomore and junior years, he made a combined 22 starts in 31 matches, scoring one and assisting four. His senior year was unfortunately interrupted five games into the season with a severe injury, which kept him out of action until BU’s last match of the regular season against Colgate. As a result, Amirani did not have a goal or an assist this year, but he did take four shots. He will finish his career as a Terrier with five goals, six assists, and 64 shots.
Anthony Viteri has had an illustrious career with BU. Unfortunately, he missed out on his last year with the team, as repeated concussions forced him to retire before the start of the 2017 season. Viteri spent his freshman year at St. John’s College, where he led the team with ten shots while notching a goal and an assist. Transferring to BU as a sophomore, the midfielder immediately established himself as an offensive powerhouse. He scored six goals and assisted two more, taking 61 shots with 20 on goal. The next year Viteri was even better; as well as recording another two assists, he scored eight goals and made 15 starts in as many games played. His prolific two seasons with the Terriers earned him two Patriot League Midfielder of the Week awards, three Player of the Week awards, ECAC All-Star and Big East All-Rookie team honors, two All-League first team spots, and two NSCAA All-Region first team spots.
One of this year’s co-captains, Adam Sheikali has been an integral component of BU’s defense during his tenure. Making nine starts in 18 appearances as a freshman, Sheikali helped the Terriers shut out seven opponents. The next year, he appeared in every single one of BU’s matches, contributing to another seven shutouts and notching a goal and two assists. As a junior in 2016, Sheikali was named to the Patriot League academic honor roll while making 16 starts in as many appearances and guiding the Terriers to six shutouts. This year, he was the unquestioned leader of the BU back line; his physical presence and aerial ability will be sorely missed next year.
Forward Eric Mubang has demonstrated a tenacity and work ethic this season which made him a highly entertaining player to watch. Having not seen any action in his first three years with BU, Mubang came into the 2017 campaign and quickly became a go-to offensive substitute known for his constant harassment of opposing defenses. Making 11 appearances off the bench, he scored a goal and took four shots with two on target. Mubang was also named to the academic honor roll for three straight years from 2014 to 2016.
After making nine appearances as a freshman, midfielder Eric Udelson recorded his first career goal, assist, and start in ten matches played as a sophomore. As a junior he became a regular on the team sheet, making 11 starts in 12 appearances. This year, he started one game from nine played, playing 184 minutes. Udelson will finish his BU career with 13 starts from 40 games, a goal, an assist, and five shots with three on goal.
Spending his freshman and sophomore years on the bench, goalkeeper Bjorn Kammholz then entered the first team as a junior. Making two appearances between the sticks, Kammholz recorded two shared shutouts—including one over then-No. 18 Dartmouth. This year, he made his first career start and allowed two goals in approximately 134 in-game minutes. Kammholz will finish his career with a total of six saves and a 1.06 goals against average. He was named to the academic honor roll every year from 2014-2016.
Forward Andrew Hoang saw the only playing time of his BU career this year against Colgate when he came on for eight minutes in the Terriers’ 4-0 loss. Hoang was named to the academic honor roll as a freshman, sophomore, and junior.
After making two appearances for 17 minutes as a freshman, defender Jackson Weiss missed out on action for the rest of his BU career. He was named to the academic honor roll in 2016.
Remaining on the bench for his freshman year with the team, Danny Foen then appeared in ten matches as a sophomore—including one start—and scored two goals (both match winners) with one assist. The next year, Foen made 12 appearances and took six shots. As a senior, he played in three matches for BU, including a 1-0 victory over Navy. Foen will end his Terrier career with 24 matches and a start under his belt, as well as two goals, an assist, and ten shots.
Forward Sasha Boussina transferred to BU after a year at the University of San Francisco, where he earned a WCC academic honor roll honor. Though he missed out on action in his final two years with the Terriers, Boussina did appear in seven matches as a sophomore—including two starts. In those seven matches, he posted two shot attempts. Boussina was named to the academic honor roll in both 2015 and 2016.