Saturday night’s contest saw the Boston University men’s soccer team win its second straight game. Although the team notched the victory, there was still somber news after the game. Redshirt junior defender Kelvin Madzongwe, who missed most of last year with a knee injury, was hurt during the contest and would not be able to play in Tuesday’s match.
Despite not having the strength of Madzongwe in the back, the Terriers’ defense and goalkeeping was able to adjust and help the team come away with a 1-0 win over Northeastern University on Tuesday.
“They [Northeastern] put a lot of pressure on us at our end of the field,” said BU coach Neil Roberts. “They did everything to get the goal, but we made a couple of big saves and I think our backs sacrificed.”
Madzongwe has been an integral part of the defense since his freshman year in 2010 when he was named to the America East All-Rookie Team. In 2011, his play earned him the title of America East Defender of the Year. Despite missing most of the 2012 campaign, Madzongwe returned this season, looking to help the Terriers (3-2) in their first season in the Patriot League. His injury at the end of last game left a void on defense, which led to changes in Tuesday’s lineup.
“We kind of had a new midfield,” Roberts said. “We had [senior midfielder] Fannar [Arnasson] in the midfield and sometimes was left on an island. He worked really hard and he must be tired right now.”
In the first half, Arnasson and others such as sophomore defender Jeroen Blugh and freshman midfielder David Asbjornsson were able to contain the Huskies’ (2-2-2) attack. In the first half, Northeastern was able to tally six shots, with only one of the chances going on goal, which redshirt freshman goalie Matt Gilbert was able to save.
Asbjornsson, who has played mostly midfield in his first season at BU, stepped back to help on defense Tuesday. With his 6-foot-3 frame, Asbjornsson was able to contain Northeastern’s attackers with his strong, physical play. The Iceland native was able to body up on the Husky forwards, pushing them to the outside of the field, and not allowing many quality opportunities.
“David [Asbjornsson] does a good job back there,” Roberts said. “But the thing is we lose him in the midfield. He did a fantastic job stepping in for Kelvin [Madzongwe], but it was a sacrifice.”
While the Terrier defense played well in front of Gilbert for most of the contest, towards the end of the second half the Huskies’ offense went into attack mode, hungry to tie up the score. In the end, however, Gilbert was able to keep the Huskies at bay, as he posted his second-straight shutout.
In the 72nd minute, Gilbert faced his toughest test of the night when Northeastern earned a corner kick. Forward Donovan Fayd curled the ball into the box perfectly for defender Simon Cox to head in on goal, but Gilbert made a leaping save with his right hand.
In the final minutes of the game, Gilbert faced his final test when midfielder Dante Marini was able to win the ball and get a quality opportunity towards net. Marini dribbled with his right foot, switched the ball to his left, and tried to bury the shot in the lower right corner. Gilbert crouched, prepared for the shot, and pounced on the ball to make a diving save, helping preserve the lead.
“Gilbert made a couple of big saves,” Roberts said. “He held on to the ball and didn’t give up rebounds. It was another good performance by the kid.”
After the win, Roberts said he liked what he saw from the depth of his team defense as well as how it will look going forward in the season.
“We made it through with guys being out,” Roberts said. “We’re showing that we have some depth. If Kelvin [Madzonge] is ready, then we have more numbers in the midfield. Our block of four in the back will be difficult to deal with.”