The Boston University men’s soccer team came into its match Wednesday against Harvard University looking to rebound from a loss against Providence College, but instead, the team came out with a 0-0 double-overtime draw at Soldiers Field.
Similar to the 2-0 loss to Providence (5-1-2) on Friday, the Terriers (3-3-1) could not find their footing early in the match as Harvard (1-4-2) applied pressure and kept the Terriers off their game.
“It’s definitely a hard team to play against because of the aerial balls, they’re very big and they just loft balls into the box and you try to get control of it,” said BU coach Neil Roberts. “At times we did, and at times we didn’t.”
Aside from a shot on goal that was saved by Crimson goalkeeper Evan Mendes (four saves) the Terriers offense could not be found.
The tide of the game began to shift midway through the first half when sophomore forward Mac McGuire sprinted down the right sideline, beating two Harvard defenders along the way and setting a picture-perfect cross to senior forward Ali Sozeri, who could not finish the play.
BU seemed to hesitate on the offensive side of the ball all night, which resulted in a plethora of turnovers.
“We just take a few too many touches and it’s some young guys in there and they don’t realize how quick they’re going to get closed down,” Roberts said. “They think they have more time than they do.”
The Terriers had to play some of their younger players in the game due to injuries to some of their regular contributors.
“I think we get [junior defender] Kelvin [Madzongwe] back, we get [freshman forward] Felix [De Bona] back, we get the team back for Saturday,” Roberts said. “Now we’ve got [Jordan] Barker with some experience, and we’ve got some depth.”
Harvard switched goalies at the start of the second half with senior Brett Conrad taking over. Conrad had four saves in 65 minutes of action.
The Crimson had plenty of opportunities to separate themselves from the Terriers, including a missed header by senior A.J. Agha in the 43rd minute and a missed shot by defender Ross Friedman when Terrier redshirt freshman goalie Matt Gilbert was uncharacteristically out of position.
Gilbert bailed out the Terrier defense and rescued the game for BU in the 89th minute on a terrific save on a shot from Harvard sophomore Andrew Chang.
“They’re [Harvard] big guys and they get the ball in the air and a lot of people are going to be banging,” Roberts said. “It’s not what we needed before Navy [on Saturday], but it’s what you have to deal with, and I think we dealt with it well.”
Both overtimes were filled with the same plays that dominated regular play: each team was stagnant with the ball and could not capitalize on opportunities.
Even though both teams had a combined 29 shots, neither could put their chances away. The Terriers did have exceptional defense around the net. Although Gilbert was only credited with two saves, he made many more tough plays that could not be found on the box score.
The final scoring threat of the game came on a BU corner kick with less than a minute of action remaining. The ball was knocked around by BU, but was eventually cleared back into the middle of the field by the Crimson.
Roberts said while the outcome was disappointing, he believes things will improve for the Terriers in their next game.
“I think we lost our composure a couple of times,” Roberts said. “I think we’re built to be able to withstand that and I think we’ll have our full team back for Saturday.”