The Boston University men’s soccer team is seeking its third win in four games when it visits Colgate University Wednesday night at Van Doren Field.
The Terriers (5-8-1, 2-4 Patriot League) are looking to close their season in a strong fashion and earn a berth in the Patriot League playoffs.
Currently, BU is eighth in the Patriot League standings with six total points. Only the top six teams gain entry into the playoffs. Although the Terriers have the odds stacked against them, they sit only one point behind Colgate (3-11-2, 2-3-1 Patriot League), which is in a three-way tie for fifth place.
A win on Wednesday would put the Terriers in the middle of the pack and enable them to control their own destiny with games against American University and Bucknell University remaining on their schedule.
BU last played this past Saturday in a 2-0 win over Loyola University-Maryland. Junior forward Dominique Badji and sophomore forward Lucas McBride both scored in the game while redshirt freshman goalkeeper Matt Gilbert kept a clean sheet.
The Terriers were aided in that game by the return of junior defender Kelvin Madzongwe and sophomore defender Jeroen Blugh.
“It’s great to have them back,” said BU coach Neil Roberts. “They’re not just talented players, but they’re experienced players and they give us a physical presence. They’re both physically gifted athletes as well as soccer players.”
Athleticism is not the only place where these two athletes aid the BU defense. Madzongwe, the 2011 America East Defender of the Year, adds the ability to bring the ball up the field and lead the offense on a counterattack.
“It helps us possess better and defend better, so it really makes our whole team better,” Roberts said. “We’re glad to have them back even if it’s just for a short time. It’s better now than not at all.”
The impact the two players had on the game was evident, as Loyola (5-7-2, 0-5-1 Patriot League) was only able to manage six shots for the entire game.
Roberts said he is optimistic that BU can continue its strong offensive play.
“Hopefully we get some attacks going, we can still get better on that,” Roberts said. “It’s our frontrunners and midfielders. We’ve had them intact for a game, this being our second game, and we have to prove we can win on the road.”
Gilbert has proven time and time again to be a reliable presence in net, as he has recorded five shutouts in 12 games. The Madison, N.J., native has posted a 0.99 goals-against average and a .815 save percentage.
The road has been a constant struggle for BU this year, as it has yet to win a game away from Nickerson Field with an away record of 0-5-1.
A bigger challenge will face the Terriers, however, as senior midfielder Vicente Colmenares will be unable to play. Losing Colmenares could be significant for BU, as he has seen significant playing time in all four of his years with the Terriers.
Colgate has not been a powerhouse on the offensive side of the ball, but has been able to win low-scoring games. The Raiders have been heating up as of late, as they have scored four of their 11 goals for the season in their last three games.
The Raiders are at the bottom of the league with 25 goals allowed and currently rank sixth in the conference in saves (64).
“They’re always a hard team to play at home, they do not allow many goals,” Roberts said. “They’re very good defensively and on set players.”
The Terriers will almost certainly be looking to get the ball to their main playmaker, senior midfielder Anthony Ciccone. He leads the team with five assists, which is also third in the league.
Ciccone will be trying to feed scoring chances to either Badji or McBride who lead the team in goals with four and three respectively.
According to Roberts, the Terriers will look to stay focused in Wednesday’s contest, and he believes they have what it takes to finish the season strong.
“We just have to play clean defensively, win our battles, take our chances and it will work out,” Roberts said.