By: Akshai Wadhwani
BOSTON – Dreary weather made for a dreary match on Saturday afternoon, as BU men’s soccer marked an anticlimactic conclusion to Boston University’s first-ever “Soc’toberfest” by grinding to a 0-0 draw against Lafayette.
Under the overcast skies decorating Nickerson Field from above, the Terriers (3-6-3, 2-1-1 in PL) dominated possession—and failed to do much of note with it. They took plenty of shots—and failed to cause much harm with the vast majority of them. In the end, the match was mostly a series of slow-paced possessions intermixed with frequent giveaways.
The Terriers did have three standout scoring opportunities. The first arrived within five minutes of first half action, when an arching cross from Mana Chavali invited Adam Wright to climb the staircase and put a point-blank header on goal. The senior was denied by Lafayette goalkeeper Alex Sutton, who made a brilliant reflex save at his far post to keep the match scoreless.
Wright, identified by head coach Neil Roberts as a makeshift forward on the day, remained a prevalent presence for the rest of his time on the pitch.
“Adam’s never really played up front for us,” Roberts said postmatch. “He did a good job.”
The start of the second half saw the second of the three chances denied, as sophomore Toti Knutsson wrapped his foot around a one-time shot from the edge of the box. Unfortunately, his effort flew straight at Sutton, who palmed the ball over the crossbar.
Freshman forward John Siracuse had a golden opportunity to seal victory for BU within the closing stages of regulation time. With 50 seconds left, the Lexington native found himself in acres of space in the penalty area, completely unmarked, as a cross arrived from sophomore Elias Lampis. With all the time in the world, Siracuse lashed a completely mistimed header well wide of the right post—a miss he will surely come to regret after seeing the replay footage.
The Leopards (4-4-3, 0-2-2 in PL), for their part, put together some promising attacking sequences. However, they never truly challenged senior keeper Mike Bernardi in the BU net; the latter’s most acrobatic moment came in the form of a diving punch of his line in the second half. Bernardi finished with two stops recorded, though both were more catches than saves.
BU were given a further advantage in the last five minutes of overtime, when Lafayette’s Martin Ssessanga earned himself a second yellow card with a dive in the penalty box that could only be described as disgraceful. Yet, despite the brief one-man advantage, the Terriers still could not break through.
Final shot total favored BU at 18-6, although the majority of those efforts were harmless on both ends. The Terriers also came away empty-handed having notched nine corner kicks, a team high for the season.
The offensive shortcomings may have stemmed from several reshufflings which the Terrier lineup underwent during the match—likely inspired by the fact that starting forward Wright, and later mainstay center back Josh Barkoff, both left the pitch injured during the first 90 minutes. The loss of staff, along with the initial absence of attackers Matt McDonnell, Satchel Cortet, and Austin D’Anna from the roster, is something Roberts believes was a key factor in the struggles on the day.
“Whatever can go wrong, goes wrong,” Roberts said. “We lose three forwards, we bring in another guy—Adam [Wright]—who starts doing a good job, he’s doing well, and then he gets hurt. So now we’re into our sixth forward, we gotta take Mana [Chavali] out of the midfield and put him up front. It just disrupts everything…it’s tough.”
“You gotta do what you gotta do. If guys can’t play, if they’re not fit to go, then you gotta make up something…It is what it is,” he said. “You just try to keep plugging the holes. I thought the guys, under the circumstances, did a great job—they tried to push the game.”
Next Up: The Terriers get a six-day rest before visiting Loyola Maryland for a Friday night matchup in Baltimore. Kickoff for that one is set for 7 p.m.