The Boston University men’s soccer team earned its third victory in as many games at home Tuesday night at Nickerson Field when it defeated Northeastern University by a score of 1-0.
BU (3-2-0) was persistent on the offensive side of the field early on, but could not capitalize on those opportunities due to stingy defensive play by Northeastern (2-2-2), which was looking to extend its undefeated streak to five games, a stretch dating back to Sept. 7.
After a mostly uneventful first half hour of play, the Terriers would score their lone goal of the game thanks to freshman forward Felix De Bona in the 34th minute of the game.
De Bona’s goal came by way of a header off of a pass from senior midfielder Anthony Ciccone on what was his fourth assist of the season. With the game scoreless, Ciccone lofted a free kick from 35 yards out which De Bona then headed into the middle of the net past the diving goalkeeper Dylan Faber. It was his second goal in as many games.
“De Bona is a goal scorer … We’re taking him along slowly, working him into shape,” said BU coach Neil Roberts. “Both of his goals were poacher-type goals. He knows where the goal is. He has soft feet and that little glaze off of his head wasn’t an accident, he knew exactly where he was. He does it all the time in practice. He’s going to score a lot of goals.”
Physicality was a key factor throughout the game with each team fighting for the win. The level of play remained physical throughout the night, as there was a total of 25 fouls overall as well as three yellow cards handed out in the first 50 minutes.
The second half of the game bogged down into a defensive battle between the two teams.
“They’re a good team and they put a lot of pressure on us on our half of the field,” Roberts said. “We didn’t deal with it well. [We’ve] got to give them a lot of credit.”
Northeastern controlled the ball for large portions of the second half, as the Terriers only recorded two shots in the final 45 minutes of play.
Despite their superior ball possession, the defending Colonial Athletic Association champion Huskies could not capitalize on their opportunities during the game, even though they led the Terriers in shots and corner kicks, 13-6 and 8-1 respectively.
This was due in large part to the staunch defense of the Terriers, as well as redshirt freshman goalkeeper Matt Gilbert. Gilbert’s biggest play occurred in the 72nd minute, as he punched a ball headed for net over the goal, highlighting the skills that have earned him the start in four of the first five games this season. Gilbert finished the night with five saves in the shutout win.
When asked about what the team has to do to extend its winning streak, Roberts said his team must prepare for the quick turnaround in having Tuesday and Friday games.
“We have to recover,” he said. “These Tuesday-Friday games are quick, and we know Providence hasn’t been playing this week, so they’ll be fresher … We’ll have to do a better job maintaining the game. It’s nice to battle and to win, but we want to control and to win, even against a good team like Northeastern. I’d like to create more chances than we did in the second half tonight. I think what we can hopefully take from this game is that when we lose control of the game, we have to do a better job getting it back.
“I don’t think we ever got it back. That’s something that we have to learn to do. Even in Connecticut, we did it. [Against] BC, we did it. But tonight, because of the pressure, it never happened. That’s probably the biggest thing we need to fix. That’s just by passing and having confidence and having the ability to pass the ball.