After early season losses to Boston College and the No. 12 University of Connecticut, Boston University’s men’s soccer redshirt freshman goalkeeper Matt Gilbert has been strong his last three games. In his two shutouts against Monmouth University and Northeastern University, Gilbert had a combined six saves.
“Matt’s been doing really well,” said BU coach Neil Roberts. “He’s been really impressive. Where he’s come this year from last year, it’s very, very impressive. We’re happy for him.”
So far this season, Gilbert has saved 24 shots in five games, good for a .828 save percentage. After starting the season 0-2, Gilbert has worked his way back, winning two of his last three starts. Roberts said that the Madison, N.J., native has made some significant strides since last year.
“His confidence is much better,” Roberts said. “His hands are much better. I think he’s making better judgments. He’s obviously a big guy, but he can come out and catch balls, and he’s making big saves, so it’s been very good.”
Gilbert has received the majority of playing time with junior goalie Nick Thomson still recovering from surgery. As of now, Roberts said the 6-foot-4 Gilbert is the starting goalkeeper for the Terriers (3-3).
“Nick [Thomson] is coming along,” Roberts said. “We’re hoping to have a real dilemma on our hands. Nick is coming off of surgery, so I don’t think he’s quite where he would like to be, so we just have to be patient and get them ready. Again, it’ll be a nice problem to have once we get to that point.”
Roberts wants more progression in offense
Despite scoring no goals in the first two games of the season, the Terriers have scored six times in the last four games. Roberts said he is pleased with the progression of the offense so far this season, and said that the offensive personnel have become more comfortable with each other as the season has progressed.
“You play Boston College, who is a very, very good team and you play Connecticut, who is always one of the top defensive teams in the country every year,” Roberts said. “You’re not going to be getting a lot of goals, and they’re difficult games to start out with when you’re trying to find yourself.
“We’re happy with where the offense is moving. The last three games, we had a changeup at midfield with [junior back] Kelvin [Madzongwe] out. We’re not anywhere near where I think we’re capable of being, but we’re definitely heading in the right direction which is nice to see.”
Despite the progress so far this season, Roberts said there are still improvements that can be made on offensive play.
“I think we can score more goals,” Roberts said. “The services and flanks can be better, which I think they will be. I think we’re getting our midfielders and people into good positions. We’re just not getting our final service. If you look back at the Providence [College] game, we finally did that. [Junior midfielder] Cameron [Souri] got a great service from the flank and found [junior forward] Dominique [Badji], who put it off the crossbar.
“Those are the type of services that we’re getting in position to serve, but the quality of the services hasn’t been there. I think once we’re a little bit more consistent for a number of plays, I think we’ll be a lot more dangerous.”
BU Alum Bustamante records assist in first MLS start
Former Terrier and current New York Red Bulls midfielder Michael Bustamante recorded his first assist in Major League Soccer Sept. 14 when he played a ball that led to a goal for forward Thierry Henry against Toronto FC.
“He got his first start and he’s been doing well in training,” Roberts said. “The big thing about Michael is that he’s a hard worker and he knew where his spot was on the team, so he just kept working hard, waiting for his opportunity. When he finally got it, he just got the confidence in himself to take advantage of it and set up the winning goal that put them into first place”
Bustamante — who was selected with the 13th pick in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft — is Roberts’s sixth player to join an MLS club. He is the first Terrier alumnus to record an assist or a goal in an MLS game since Sammy Appiah scored a goal for the Houston Dynamo in 2010.
While he played with the Terriers, Bustamante became the first-ever men’s soccer player to earn America East All-Conference all four years of his career at BU and was the fourth ever Terrier to earn All-Northeast Region award four times. During his tenure he also assisted on 27 goals, good for ninth on the all-time assists list for the Terriers.