Concluding a three-game homestand, the Boston University men’s soccer team defeated the University of Massachusetts Lowell, 1-0, Wednesday night on a wet Nickerson Field.
This was the first meeting between the Terriers and the River Hawks since Lowell began competing in Division I in 2013.
The opening 20 minutes were relatively quiet for both sides, with the only action coming on a shot by sophomore midfielder Anthony Viteri that was deflected out of bounds.
The River Hawks (5-4) controlled the majority of possession in the first half, and had a few opportunities to score.
In the 21st minute, BU (5-2-1, 0-0-1 Patriot League) avoided falling behind when Lowell striker Wuilito Fernandes had a header sail wide of an open net. Junior goalkeeper Matt Gilbert had come out of the net to play the ball, but Fernandes got to it before Gilbert could.
A few minutes later, Fernandes had another chance at a goal, but this time Gilbert stopped his shot.
The Terriers’ best opportunity of the first half came when freshman midfielder Troy Phoa sent in a cross to senior forward Lucas McBride. McBride mishit the ball and his shot went wide. Throughout the game, McBride continued to find his way into the box and applied pressure on the River Hawks’ defense, but could not find the back of the net.
The Terriers opened the match a little sluggishly and were possibly tired from playing their third game in six days.
“We needed to space the games out at the beginning of the season because we’re so young, to get some training in,” said BU coach Neil Roberts. “You space it out in the beginning, and you have to pay for it in the end.”
Following halftime, the Terriers came out looking like a different team. Their energy and ball pressure were noticeably better from the first half.
“We didn’t make any adjustments, we just talked about it,” Roberts said. “Our game is to try to move the ball and to get them tired, and we did a better job of that in the second half.”
McBride echoed Roberts’ explanation for the stark difference between each half.
“It wasn’t a personnel adjustment, it was more just a mentality [adjustment],” he said. “We were playing at their pace, which is not how we usually play.”
The shutout was finally broken in the 51st minute when sophomore midfielder David Amirani struck a ball from the top of the box, which then deflected off a defender past River Hawks goalkeeper Austin Kroll. It was Amirani’s first goal of the season and the fifth of his career.
Upon returning to the game in the second half, junior forward Felix De Bona continued to apply offensive pressure for the Terriers. De Bona was attacking throughout the half, and almost netted a header off a Phoa cross, but the ball was hit right to Kroll.
Although BU controlled the game for most of the second half, Lowell senior Nana Osei had an open break on goal in the 75th minute, but Gilbert quickly came out of the net and saved the shot.
With time running out for the River Hawks, Fernandes, in an attempt to catch Gilbert off his line, took an incredible shot from over 30 yards out, but the ball hit the post and bounced away.
Fernandes’ shot was the last serious goal threat of the game. The River Hawks outshot the Terriers 16-11, but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
Roberts has done all he can to use his substitutes and give his players some rest as they go through a stretch of four games in nine days.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t give Viteri as much time out as we would have liked,” Roberts said. “With [freshman back] Ben [Valek] coming back for the weekend, we’ll be able to rest [senior midfielder] Richie [Robinson] a little bit.”