By Akshai Wadhwani
BOSTON, MA – Ivy remains the flora of the week for the Boston University men’s soccer team, as they prepare to take on Princeton in a Saturday afternoon slate.
The Terriers tied Dartmouth, 2-2, earlier this week, and have Harvard coming up next Wednesday evening in Allston. The Tigers will thus be BU’s second of three consecutive Ivy League opponents. Perhaps head coach Neil Roberts is hoping to bolster his players’ grade-point averages before they begin conference competition against American next weekend.
In any case, the Terriers (1-2-2) will take the field in New Jersey boasting a formidable offense. They currently lead the Patriot League with eight goals scored, a number due largely to the workhorse known as Matt McDonnell — a hat trick against BC, a brace against UMass, and an additional tally against the Big Green leaves the junior forward well atop the scarlet and white leaderboards.
Though suffering from somewhat inconsistent form this season, a 2017 Patriot League Rookie of the Week and All-Second Team member Toti Knutsson has supplied three assists. The sophomore’s fellow Iceland native, Kari Petursson, follows close behind with an additional helper—as well as a howler of a game-winning goal against UMass.
Ironically, BU also maintains the Patriot League’s worst defensive record with 11 goals conceded—a blight that has not gone unnoticed by Roberts.
“We’re still giving up too many goals,” the Terrier head honcho said after his team’s 3-2 victory over the Minutemen.
Princeton (2-3) will conclude a three-match homestand with BU’s visit on the morrow. Most recently, the Tigers earned their own inaugural home victory of the season when they overcame Temple, 2-1, on Wednesday.
Their offense has stemmed from experience, with upperclassmen making up four of the five players who have recorded points this season. Senior Sean McSherry leads with two goals and two assists, with juniors Danny Hampton (one goal) and Benjamin Issroff (one assist) and senior Jeremy Colvin (one goal) in tow. Sophomore Gaby Paniagua is the lone underclassman to have contributed to the point total, listing a tally against Delaware.
The goalkeeping matchup sees Princeton’s Jacob Schachner go head-to-head with the united efforts of senior Michael Bernardi and sophomore William Bonnelyche. In saves, both entities maintain 11 stops on the season. However, all other categories heavily favor the host keeper.
Playing every minute of the season for the Tigers thus far, Schachner has allowed less than a goal per game and upholds a .688 save percentage. By contrast, BU’s Bernardi-Bonnelyche combo has allowed more than two goals per game, with a .593 save percentage.
Last year, the two sides clashed in a 1-1 draw that was anything but tranquil. Late in the first half, BU midfielder David Amirani left the pitch on a stretcher after a brutal challenge from James Reiner. Then, less than a minute before the end of the first 90 minutes, Ben Valek was sent off via a second yellow card—one of nine total bookings issued over the course of the match. The bad blood could very well boil over in this Sunday’s fixture – after all, both teams remain physical by design.
Both Princeton and BU retain their goalscorers from the 1-1 result, with Colvin and midfielder Nicki Wieners returning to their respective rosters as seniors.
The Tigers remain undefeated in the five-year-old all-time series, at 2-0-2. Both draws occurred at Nickerson Field, while both wins came in Princeton.
Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.