By Akshai Wadhwani
BOSTON, MA – After a brief interruption in the form of a 2-1 loss to Brown, the Terriers now bring Patriot League competition back into full focus as they prepare to conclude a soccer doubleheader on Saturday with an afternoon slate against Lehigh.
BU (2-5-2) has been in and out of form since the beginning of September, with a W-D-L-L-W-L pattern on the month. The Terriers’ conference opener resulted in a 2-1 defeat of American last weekend, before they fell to the Bears midweek in their last nonconference match before four consecutive upcoming intraleague tilts.
BU’s Matt McDonnell continues to lead the Patriot League with six goals—a feat which owes its remarkability at least in part to the fact that the junior forward has missed his team’s last four matches due to injury. Meanwhile, sophomore Austin D’Anna picked up PL Offensive Player of the Week accolades after a goal against Harvard last week to accompany his tally and helper against the Eagles.
The Terriers also owe their gratitude to the nation of Iceland for their successes this season. Freshman Kari Petursson and sophomore Toti Knutsson—two players both hailing from Gardabaer—have each made major contributions to the BU points table; Petursson sits second behind McDonnell in overall offense with two goals and two assists, while Knutsson joint-leads BU with three helpers.
Senior Mike Bernardi found himself battling with sophomore William Bonnelyche for the starting keeper’s spot earlier this season; however, after his prolific performances in recent fixtures, the former appears to have nailed down the role. With some brilliant close-range and one-on-one saves, Bernardi has boosted his save percentage to .784, with a 1.53 goals against average.
Lehigh (4-4-1) has mirrored BU’s last two games with their own results. The Mountain Hawks beat Army, 3-0, to win their opening Patriot League fixture, before also dropping a nonconference slate against Ivy League opposition with a 3-2 overtime loss to Cornell. More importantly, however, they own an outstanding 4-1-0 road record this season, with all four wins coming as shutouts; that performance has come at the ironic price of a winless 0-3-1 display at home.
Lehigh retains the reigning PL Offensive Player of the Year in senior Mark Forrest, who finished last season with 15 goals and eight assists. This year the forward is already up to ten points, with three tallies and four feeds; he has surrendered his goalscoring leadership to breakout freshman Josh Lucini, who has scored four and assisted one. Junior goalkeeper Will Smith (no, not the actor) has yet to share time in net, with a .813 save percentage and 0.96 goals against average to his name.
History favors the Terriers at 4-2-0 in the all-time series; that includes last year’s 2-0 victory in Bethlehem, from which both goalscorers are retained by BU in Knutsson and junior Mana Chavali.
Kickoff, following the BU women’s soccer team’s 1 p.m. clash with Lafayette, will commence at 4 p.m.