The Boston University men’s soccer team will return home to face Loyola University-Maryland Saturday night at Nickerson Field.
The Terriers (4-8-1, 1-4-0 Patriot League) come off a tough loss to Lafayette College Saturday. Goalie Nathan McDonald had registered five clean sheets in 12 games for the Leopards (4-3-6, 2-3-0 Patriot League) coming into the contest, which made scoring a tough task for the BU offense.
Lafayette’s first goal came in the 22nd minute. The Terrier defense seemed like it tried to create an offsides trap by moving up yards ahead of the goal box to generate the opportunity for an offsides call. This tactic backfired on BU, as Lafayette freshman Ryan Egan sent a ball to forward Jeff McLaughlin, who snuck behind the defense. McLaughlin found himself in a one-on-one against redshirt freshman goaltender Matt Gilbert and delivered, rifling a shot past Gilbert and into the back of the net.
“Our defense was caught offline,” said BU coach Neil Roberts. “He was probably a yard or two offside, and he just beat us but so, it happens. We just have to move on it from it and play better.”
Lafayette added a second goal in the 42nd minute, as junior Tom McCutcheon and senior Bryan White teamed up off a free kick just outside the 18-yard box to put the Leopards up by two goals.
The contest ended in a 2-0 defeat for BU. The Terriers had their opportunities, as junior forward Dominique Badji ended with a game-high five shots on target. He is tied for fifth in the Patriot League in shots and shots per game, as he has racked up 35 in 12 matches. He is proving he is a force to be reckoned with, as his value goes beyond the numbers on the stat sheet.
“Dominique has been playing well,” Roberts said. “Especially in a game like Lehigh [University], he was our most dominant player. I think his game is really coming around and now he just needs to learn how to finish since he finds himself in a lot of scoring positions. The rest of his game has developed quite nicely but now all he needs to do is finish to become that premier player.”
On the other side of the ball, Gilbert had a respectable game, as he recorded six saves. He is quietly putting together a very solid rookie campaign, as he now ranks fourth in saves per game and is tied for fifth in shutouts in the Patriot League, with 50 saves and four shutouts in 11 contests.
Loyola (5-6-2, 0-4-1 Patriot League) is still looking for its first Patriot League win, as it comes off a 1-0 loss to Lehigh (2-10-1, 1-4-0 Patriot League). The Greyhounds came into the season on a roll, as they won five of their first six games. They were firing on all cylinders, producing goals when their defense was not up to par and registering shutouts when their offense could only muster one or two goals.
The Greyhounds have been free-falling ever since their promising start, as they have not won a game sinceSept. 18. They are currently on a seven-game winless streak consisting of six losses and one tie. What seemed like a playoff-bound team early in the season has now turned into a struggling squad. However, the Greyhounds still boast premier playmakers even if their record may not show it.
Sophomore Larry Ndjock has been nothing short of spectacular for Loyola this season. He leads the Patriot League in both points per game and goals per game, racking up 16 points and eight goals in 11 games. He also has shown how he is not afraid of the moment, as he is tied for first in the Patriot League in game-winning goals, recording four on the year.
“The freshman came onto the scene last year,” Roberts said. “He’s very talented and very good, and if you leave him alone, he’ll scare you. He’s someone we have to contain.”
On the other side of the ball, goalkeeper Zach Kane has been solid. While only starting eight games, he is already ranked seventh in the Patriot League in saves with 42 and leads the league in saves per game. So many saves in just eight games shows how weak his defense has been in front of him this year.
Both teams have underachieved this year, but the Terriers will look to finish off the last portion of their season on a positive note.
“It’s disappointing for sure,” Roberts said. “It’s just a matter of us getting together and scoring some goals. We’re just worried about this game [coming up] for now. We just have to compete and play, and the rest will take care of itself.”