Soccer, Sports

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After more than a week off, the top-seeded Boston University men’s soccer team will host the fourth-seed University of Vermont in the America East Tournament semifinals tonight at 7 p.m. at Nickerson Field.

The Terriers (9-5-3, 6-1-1 AE) earned a bye and the conference’s regular season title Nov. 1 with a 2-0 victory over the University of Hartford. The Hawks met the Catamounts (9-3-7, 4-1-3) in a quarterfinal match Nov. 8 and dropped a 3-1 decision to set up the BU-UVM showdown.

BU comes into tonight’s contest riding a seven-game unbeaten streak. The last time the Terriers lost was Oct. 4, when they surrendered a 3-1 result to the University at Albany in their conference opener. The 1-1 tie on Oct. 22 against Vermont remains the only other blemish on the Terriers’ near-perfect conference record.

In that contest, junior Tom Strackhouse scored the lone goal for BU off a corner kick assisted by freshman Michael Bustamante. It looked as though the Terriers were on their way to victory, but Catamount junior T.J. Gore scored off a deflection to even the score. After two overtimes, the game remained deadlocked.

BU coach Neil Roberts said the key for the Terriers is to play their own game with the intention of disrupting the Catamounts’ style of play.

‘They’re going to try to make us play their style, and we’re going to try to make them play our style,’ Roberts said. ‘If they make us play their game, then it’s going to be a difficult day for us. And we feel the same for them. If they have to play the way we like to, hopefully it will make their day a bit more difficult.’

Home-field advantage means plenty to these Terriers, and they will try to capitalize on it tonight. BU is quite comfortable within the confines of Nickerson Field, posting a 9-2-2 record at home this season.’

‘[The advantage] is what you play for,’ Roberts said. ‘It doesn’t mean all that much once the game starts ‘-‘- it’s who executes and who does what they need to do to play well. But it’s important if you take advantage of it.’

The Catamounts utilize a fast-paced style of play, with a pair of offensive weapons the Terriers should be aware of. The most notable threat is senior forward Jordan Crasilneck, who has notched four goals and 10 assists this season. His team-best 18 points are good for sixth in the conference.

‘They’ve got some big guys and they like to get the ball to them quickly,’ Roberts said. ‘They get the ball forward as quickly as possible and they try to get a good restart. They’re good with balls over the top or balls that they can flick on to the bigger guys up front.’

The Terrier defense is probably one of the last the Catamounts want to face. Led by First-Team All-Conference back Dan Schultz, the BU backline has allowed only two goals in its last seven games.

The Terrier backs have done a superb job protecting senior goalkeeper Hrafn Davidsson, who has earned six solo shutouts and two more along with junior Joe Cullaro. Davidsson currently holds a .779 save percentage and a 0.89 goals-against average.

The winner of tonight’s game will advance to Saturday’s conference championship game. The victor will play the winner of today’s other semifinal between the University at Albany and Binghamton University.

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