By: Brady Gardner
With last week’s Patriot League quarterfinal loss to Army West Point, the Boston University men’s soccer team’s 2018 campaign has come to a close.
The Terriers’ season was often marred by misfortune, with injury plaguing the team throughout the fall. Junior Matt McDonnell finished as the team’s leading scorer with six goals, but was unavailable for the majority of the season following an injury suffered on Sept. 11.
Sophomore Austin D’Anna was another promising attacking option presumed to carry part of the load, but he too missed time due to injury. Satchel Cortet was also banged up for parts of the year, and Josh Barkoff battled through pain late in the campaign. These examples alone would be more than enough to ruin a season for most teams.
While the injuries to these key contributors and others certainly gave head coach Neil Roberts his fair share of headaches, they did open the door for younger players to gain opportunities in significant minutes. Freshman Kari Petursson shone on the wing for the Terriers, providing a team-leading five assists in addition to three goals — second only to McDonnell in the latter category. Fellow first-years John Siracuse and Nate Cole excelled in attack and defense respectively, and sophomore duo Max Aunger and Toti Knuttson continued their development with increased minutes in their second year with the team.
Youth was plentiful in the BU XI all season, but the group of seniors were the real driving force behind the team’s 2018 campaign. Goalkeeper Mike Bernardi was arguably the Terriers’ player of the year, coming up game after game with stunning saves and impressive instincts. Barkoff was a relentless engine in defense, and captain David Riccio was a rock in the back from the beginning. TJ Butzke was a calming presence in the midfield, and Adam Wright — who missed his entire junior season due to his own injury problems — provided a few critical goals late in the year to essentially send his team into the Patriot League tournament.
A playoff loss on penalty kicks at home may have been heartbreaking for the Terriers, but they can be proud of the year they put together, considering the hand they were dealt. The year saw both peaks and valleys, often in synchronization with the injuries sustained over the course of the season.
This was a team forced to thrust inexperienced players into the spotlight and ask more than was initially expected of upperclassman leaders. While it wasn’t pretty at times, they never quit, and battled their way to the results they needed. Qualifying for the tournament was a major accomplishment in itself for the team, and certainly something to build on in 2019.
So, what can we expect from the Terriers next fall?
It will be the senior season for the likes of McDonnell, Cortet, and Mana Chavali, all players with something to prove as they enter their final year with the squad. Petursson, Siracuse, and Cole will be looking to build on freshman success with a year of collegiate soccer under their belts, and Aunger, Knuttson, and D’Anna will hope to make an effective transition into the team’s core leadership group as upperclassmen. Between the sticks, William Bonnelyche will have the duty of filling Bernardi’s shoes — a difficult task, but one that will be welcomed by the current sophomore.
It’s never easy to remain optimistic when your team has been decimated by injuries the way the Terriers were this year. But when adversity hits, teams acquire qualities superior to those gained in a season of flawless execution and bountiful accolades: Resilience. Drive. Tenacity. The list goes on.
This team was tested mentally and physically this year, guided by a coach with more than three decades at the helm, and led by as competitive and hardworking a senior class as you’ll ever see.
In 2019, this team will have a chip on their shoulder, and a hunger for sustained success.
By the time next fall comes around, you better believe they will be ready to make the 2019 Terriers a team to remember.