Soccer, Sports

Offense hits its stride in second half

For most of the first half of last night’s semifinal game against the University of Vermont, the Boston University men’s soccer team tried to get the ball into the box, but the swarming Catamount defense prevented anyone from getting open in the middle of the field.

That changed toward the end of the half, when the Terriers were able to get the ball wide with streaks down the flanks. One such streak put BU on the board first. America East Midfielder and Rookie of the Year Michael Bustamante led a streaking senior Jon Jonsson down the right side. The UVM backs sucked toward Jonsson, leaving senior Jin Oh wide open in the box to head in Jonsson’s cross.

In the second half, BU continued to work the flanks, opening up the middle for junior Shaun Taylor.

In the 61st minute, Taylor spun off his defender and ripped a shot from just outside the box that sailed over the net.

Between the 77th and 81st minute, Taylor was able to create three scoring chances using the extra space, twice finding Bustamante inside the box. Bustamante’s first chance was a shot from 15 yards out that Catamount senior goalkeeper Roger Scully saved.

AE Defender of the Year Connor Tobin broke up the Terriers’ second chance before Bustamante could get a shot off. Then Taylor found junior Samuel Appiah, whose shot was deflected out of bounds by Scully.

‘We want to get it into [Taylor] and then he has to get it wide for us,’ BU coach Neil Roberts said. ‘We have to establish our flanks to open things up for Shaun. We did that a little bit at the end of the first half and then we did it more in the second half.

‘In the first half, he didn’t have any space because we didn’t really do any work on the flanks. Every time we got it to him, there were four guys around him. In the second half, because we did a better job on the flanks, he had more space to turn and get loose.’

Despite outshooting UVM, 8-3, and earning six corner kicks to the Catamounts’ zero, the Terriers were stuck in a 1-1 tie with less than 10 minutes left in regulation. But BU stuck to its strategy and continued to serve the ball into Taylor.

It paid off with 8:15 to go when Taylor received a pass in the box, spun off Tobin and found junior Richy Dorman on the right side. Dorman let go of a shot from 15 yards out that squeaked by Scully into the right side of the net.

‘The midfielders were creating a lot of space,’ Taylor said. ‘So if they gave it to me, there were a lot of chances to find someone. I think it’s what we normally try to play, but we were just able to do it a lot easier against Vermont with the style that they play. They come at you with a lot of pressure and if you break that, there are a lot of gaps.’

Although he leads BU in goals with nine, Taylor proved last night that he can be just as effective being a playmaker as he can being a goal scorer.

‘That’s his job,’ Roberts said. ‘He plays with his back to the goal. We get the ball into him and he gets other people involved. And then every now and then, he’ll try to turn and go. Shaun did a great job for us [last night].’

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