The Boston University men’s soccer team ended a six-game winless streak and earned its first win in Patriot League play Friday afternoon at Nickerson Field when the team defeated Lehigh University by a score of 1-0.
The Terriers (4-7-1, 1-3 Patriot League) were lifted by a goal in the 75th minute by sophomore forward Lucas McBride, when redshirt freshman goalkeeper Matt Gilbert played the ball into the Mountain Hawks (1-8-1, 0-4) defensive zone, where McBride was able to take advantage of a Lehigh misplay to score the goal.
“It wasn’t easy, it was a hard fought game,” said BU coach Neil Roberts. “Lehigh played well. They jammed things up and they fought and they fought.”
Offensive chances were not a problem for the Terriers however, as they had several shots near the goal, which they could not convert. BU outshot Lehigh 15-7, including five shots each from McBride and freshman midfielder David Asbjornsson.
The game started with no team taking control, and the game was mostly being played in the midfield, as neither team could find offensive footing.
The first real opportunity of the game came with a 3-on-2 with senior midfielders Evan Nadaner and Anthony Ciccone setting up McBride on a near perfect pass, but McBride was not able to finish the play.
Roberts said he was happy with the offensive game plan of the Terriers, emphasizing a need to finish.
“Offensively we picked it up a bit, we really created a lot of chances again,” Roberts said. “Obviously we have to start to finish, we have to finish more. We can’t take that many good opportunities to get one goal and that goal wasn’t even from a good opportunity it was almost from a misplay and that’s something we have to straighten out.”
Lehigh was able to get near the goal multiple times throughout the match, but showed a major weakness in its inability to finish. This was highlighted in the 20th minute when Lehigh midfielder Danny Gonzalez had a 1-on-1 opportunity against Gilbert but had his shot go wide of the net.
There are some players who have an impact on a game that is not measured on the box score. In this game, that player was junior midfielder Dominique Badji.
“I told him after the game, he’s the man of the match by far,” Roberts said. “He was really awesome in that game. Just winning balls, tackling, getting our attack going. I can’t say enough about how Dom played in that game, he was by far the man of the match.”
“I think everybody dug deep to get the goal, keep the shutout, get the win,” Roberts said about the impact of Badji’s performance on the team. “Everybody wanted this game but Dom’s play was just, if you’re not inspired by that on the field. He was most of our offense. He was making tackles. He was really doing the work of two people out there and we needed it.”
Badji had to deal with physical play throughout the entire match, as he was often double-teamed on throw-ins. It seemed as though whenever Badji got near the ball, there were two defenders right on him.
“I mean it’s the Patriot League, they’re tough, they’re big,” Badji said. “That’s why we have to limit our touches. I mean, I’m expecting it every game I play. All the defenders are going to try and really get to me. It feels great; it’s been a while since we got a win. It feels nice to get this one.”
There were two occurrences in the first half when it seemed as though Badji had gotten fouled within the Mountain Hawks’ goal box, but no foul was called both times much to the dismay of the BU bench.
“First half I feel like I was in there a little more, got a couple chances,” Badji said. “Second half they were on me a little tight, they were on all our forwards a little tight so I got to drop in a little bit on the midfield.”
Badji’s resiliency was also shown when he had to get taken off the field during the game with an apparent injury, but was able to come back into the game and only miss six minutes of time.
“As a team it’s not where we want it to be but this win is a step in the right direction,” Badji said. “Hopefully we can win the rest of the games from here. It’s been a little frustrating, the losses we’ve had but this is a really good score for us.”