By: Akshai Wadhwani
BOSTON, MA – Saturday’s inaugural Patriot League action at Nickerson Field will see a clash of two struggling defenses with almost identical records.
Boston University men’s soccer (1-4-2) will host American (1-3-2) in both sides’ opening conference slate of 2018. The game will serve as a rematch in many respects; the Terriers and the Eagles also began league play against each other last season, a game which ended in a 2-0 victory for the former.
Saturday’s installment looks set to be a high-scoring affair, with the two leakiest defenses in the Patriot League going up against one another—a stoppable force meeting a movable object, if you will. BU have conceded 14 goals, American 18—largely thanks to a 6-0 hammering at George Washington and a 5-1 loss to West Virginia. The combined total of 32 goals allowed gives the impression that the Nickerson Field scoreboard may be running up a scoreline in the realm of the absurd by the end of Saturday’s fixture.
BU’s troubles remain compounded by the sustained absence of junior Matt McDonnell. The forward began the season in sublime fashion, netting a conference-leading six goals in the Terriers’ first five matches. However, in a classic example of Murphy’s Law, McDonnell went off injured in the second half of the Scarlet and White’s 2-2 tie with Dartmouth on September 11. Wednesday’s overtime loss to Harvard marked the second straight game in which the New York native did not appear on the roster.
In McDonnell’s absence, sophomore Toti Knutsson (3 assists), freshman Kari Petursson (1 goal, 1 assist), and junior Satchel Cortet (2 assists) have led offensive proceedings. Meanwhile, goalkeepers Mike Bernardi and William Bonnelyche display 33 saves between them; that includes Bernardi’s 14 saves against Princeton, a 2018 NCAA high.
American’s season thus far has at times been quite bizarre. What was supposed to be their opening match of the season, an August 12 road match against North Carolina State, was canceled. Their next two fixtures, against Essex CC and St. Francis, were also scratched. Resultantly, the Eagles did not officially begin their season until August 24, when they hosted George Mason in a 2-1 win.
American has not won a match since then; they have also seen yet another match taken off the boards—though this time temporarily—with a slate against Gardner-Webb earlier this month being postponed.
Junior midfielder Fabio Massaro leads the Eagles with three goals for six points; sophomores Brenner Jarrad and Jerry Zouantcha follow close behind with a pair of tallies each. Massaro’s fellow third-year, Tim Neumann, lists a team-high three assists. Meanwhile, freshman Lucas Manso has played all but forty-five minutes of the season, posting 26 stops and a .605 save percentage.
American holds the slight edge at 3-2-1, in an all-time series dating a short way back to 2013. However, BU could easily redirect the momentum from last year’s 2-0 win into another Patriot League triumph.
Kickoff from Nickerson Field is set for 1 p.m.