Playing in front of a record crowd of 7,379 at Nickerson Field, the Boston University men’s soccer team opened up its nine-game home schedule Monday night with a 3-2 loss against Boston College in the ninth annual Terrier Tailgate.
The matchup was the third time in nine seasons that the Terriers (1-1) faced off against their Commonwealth Avenue rivals in the Terrier Tailgate, which has become a tradition in welcoming students back to campus. The Eagles (2-0) bested BU 1-0 in the first Terrier Tailgate in 2007, and Monday’s loss was the eighth consecutive time that BC has beaten the Terriers on their home field.
Coming off a 1-0 victory over Quinnipiac University Friday, BC got on the board early with a goal just over 90 seconds into the game with a header from midfielder Idrissa Bangura. Defender Mohammed Moro assisted on the play.
The new-look Terriers, who are without seven starters from a season ago, are relying on a number of different players to solidify their offensive attack. Last season’s leading scorer, Dominique Badji, has graduated and is now with the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer.
One of those players is sophomore midfielder Anthony Viteri, who joins BU as a transfer student after spending his freshman season at St. John’s University.
Viteri quickly shifted the momentum back in BU’s favor with the equalizer in the fifth minute, his first goal of the season. The finish from the Flushing, New York native got BU back into the game as well. However, a number of defensive lapses throughout the remainder of the first half kept both the Terrier players and fans at bay.
Freshman Simon Enstrom gave the Eagles a 2-1 advantage in the 16th minute with his first goal of the season. Both first-half BC goals came at the cost of broken plays by the BU defense, which coach Neil Roberts says is experiencing a learning curve both offensively and defensively.
“A lot of our problems defensively were individual,” Roberts said. “In the end we lost our midfield so we put our backs in a bad spot, but even when it was 2-2 we didn’t keep our shape well enough so the backs were exposed. Individually, we need to make plays.”
Despite some defensive lapses, junior goalkeeper Matt Gilbert did show some flash in net. He had three saves on the evening, one of which thwarted the attack of BC freshman Tommy Garcia-Morillo in the 61st minute.
The entire BU team showed more life coming out of halftime. Shots were even at 7-7 in the second half, whereas the Eagles had an 8-6 shot advantage through the first 45 minutes.
“I think we had a lot of momentum,” Viteri said. “Everyone in the locker room came together and we realized that we didn’t have a really bad half even though we were down, and also it was about us finding our style of play.”
Junior forward Felix De Bona ignited a surge from the BU offense in the 73rd minute with his second goal of the season, knotting the score at two. De Bona will be another key offensive weapon for the Terriers this season as they look to find their identity. The Somerville native had just four goals all of last season.
“In the second half when [De Bona] came on, he did well,” Roberts said. “He held the ball, he had some energy, he moved, so I think that’s what we’re looking for.”
Following the De Bona goal, the Terriers jumped on a number of chances on the offensive end. They had three shots in the next five minutes but could not find the back of the net.
Just moments after being subbed into the game, Enstrom scored his second goal of the night in the 80th minute, which served as the decisive blow to the Terriers.
Both De Bona and Viteri look to be key pieces for the team going forward, and the Terriers showed some fight in coming back from two deficits. Roberts believes he and his team can take away some positives from this loss.
“The good thing from this game is the way they come back, the way they fight, the way they try to keep themselves in the game,” Roberts said. “We just need to keep our shape better. It’s not totally there yet, but it’s pretty close.”