By Akshai Wadhwani
BOSTON, MA – On Saturday, BU men’s soccer fell to Princeton, 1-0, in New Jersey. To say that the scoreline flatters the BU defense would be an understatement.
The Terriers faced 22 shots and four corner kicks over the course of the match. Five bookings were issued to BU players, with Austin D’Anna, Mana Chavali, Gent Celaj, Josh Barkoff, and Satchel Cortet all seeing yellow.
“It was the type of fouls that was the problem,” Head Coach Neil Roberts said postmatch. “It was the positions we put ourselves in [where] we had to foul. The positional discipline led to the yellow cards.”
In the face of the 22-shot barrage, Michael Bernardi opted to transform himself into a solid brick wall. The senior goalkeeper made 14 saves, blowing his previous career high of six stops clear out of the water and singlehandedly (in both a literal and figurative sense) keeping the match scoreline from reaching humiliating proportions.
“He kept us in the game,” Roberts said of his veteran keeper. “He didn’t get much help in front of him, so he definitely kept us in the game and gave us an opportunity to try to pull a goal back.”
Even Bernardi’s superhuman effort, however, could not prevent Princeton’s Jeremy Colvin from stinging the Terriers yet again. The senior forward pounced on a feed from junior Bobby Hickson in the 61st minute, giving the hosts their go-ahead goal and finding net against BU for the second straight year.
“Give Princeton credit,” Roberts said. “[They were] extremely aggressive. Early on, every second ball they were on top of.”
The Terriers split their meager total of four total shots into a pair of attempts each half. The real scoring chances (all two of them) came in the second forty-five, with seniors Barkoff and T.J. Butzke both forcing Princeton keeper Jacob Schachner into action. Butzke also had a go in the first half, and Kari Petursson supplied an effort in the 26th minute. Neither shot landed on frame.
“Our midfield was really poor today,” Roberts said of the offensive shortcomings. “We were very undisciplined from start to finish. It was very disappointing.”
Notably absent from the match roster was Matt McDonnell. The junior forward, who owns six goals for BU this season, did not return to Tuesday’s match against Dartmouth after being substituted in the 79th minute. This is an incredibly worrying prospect to think about for Terrier fans – given McDonnell’s injury troubles last year, the health rumors should be well afoot by now.
BU now has one nonconference fixture remaining before recommencing Patriot League play against American next weekend—and after being so thoroughly dominated by the Tigers, they do not exactly have a plethora of positives to work with heading into their midweek matchup with Harvard. Roberts, for one, did not shy away from criticizing his team’s performance on Saturday.
“Today was definitely not a positive step,” Roberts said. “Even though it was a draw, in the Dartmouth game [earlier this week] I thought there were some good things to pull out of it. But today, we just did not help ourselves…we were stuck behind [Princeton], which caused us to put ourselves out of position a number of times and to have to reach in and create bad fouls.”
Next Up: The Terriers trek back to nearby Allston, Mass. to face Harvard at Ohiri Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday.