Soccer, Sports

FDU’s Malijani held in check

After a disappointing 3-0 loss to the University at Albany in the Boston University men’s soccer team’s home opener Oct. 4., senior captain Dan Schultz expressed concerns about the backline’s need to come together.

‘I need to communicate better with the rest of the defenders. We need to work more as a unit and stop defending individually,’ Schultz said after that loss.

Following an out-of-conference slate marked by defensive inconsistency and costly turnovers, the Terriers’ season hit its low point against the Great Danes. Two of Albany’s three goals were direct results of defensive lapses.

BU has gone 9-0-1 since, allowing just three goals in that span. Schultz knew what he and the rest of the backs had to do ‘-‘- and they’ve done it.

‘[Communication] is a huge part of it,’ Schultz said of the team’s turnaround. ‘We tried to work on communication a lot more [following the Albany loss]. Myself and both of the outside backs started talking to the outside midfielders. I think the team’s communicated a lot better the last part of the season.’

The defensive corps of Schultz, sophomore Matt Shea and freshman Colin Henry was up to the task again Friday night against Fairleigh Dickinson University in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Knights brought the nation’s 16th-best offense to Commonwealth Avenue, but they mustered just two shots on goal and two corner kicks against BU’s stingy D.

‘Mainly, we were trying to make sure we didn’t let them get in behind us,’ Schultz said. ‘I was giving depth to Colin and Shea whenever they were pressuring the ball. We were doing a good job making sure they didn’t get in behind us and couldn’t get crosses in.’

Coming into the game, there was no question about whom FDU wanted to get the ball to. Junior forward Samson Malijani ranked second in the country with 2.16 points per game coming into the contest and was tied for second with 0.95 goals per game.

The Terriers all but completely took him out of the game on Friday night. Malijani’s only shot was a well-contested bid from 25 yards out that soared several feet over the net.

Schultz stuck to the Zambia native all game long, and whenever Malijani did get the ball, there were immediately one or two more defenders there to prevent him from spinning off Schultz and finding any room to maneuver.

‘I was just trying to stay tight on him and not let him turn or get space to run with the ball because he’s pretty fast,’ Schultz said.

FDU coach Seth Roland was quick to give props to BU’s coaches and players for the team’s discipline and organization on defense, but also faulted his own players for their inability to help out and take some of the pressure off Malijani.

‘They were good at always being tuned in to where [Malijani] was on the field and doubling him and putting pressure on him,’ Roland said. ‘Maybe Sam didn’t get as much help from some other guys as he has in some games. If a couple other guys weren’t quite as sharp and giving as much help, then it’s harder for him to be effective.

‘What’s been happening lately is people have been focusing on Sam, and Paul King has stepped up, but that didn’t happen quite as much today. Sam would still get the ball, but there would be two or three guys on him and he was still able to fend people off and give it off, but he needed a little more help in the end.’

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