The Boston University men’s soccer team will look to get back to its winning ways Wednesday night when it hosts the College of the Holy Cross in the final home game of the regular season.
The two will be fighting for the first ever Turnpike Trophy, which was created as an all-sports competition with a winner to be crowned each time the Terriers (10-4-1, 4-1-1 Patriot League) and Crusaders (5-6-4, 2-2-2 Patriot League) play.
The Terriers are coming off their first loss in regular season conference play in 14 games, a streak dating back to September 2014.
BU, however, did show some fight in its 3-2 overtime loss to Lehigh University last Saturday, coming back from two one-goal deficits during the game.
“That’s obviously a good sign, the way these guys battle,” said BU coach Neil Roberts. “They’ve done it all year long, they’ve done that from the first game of the year, and they’ve come back from being done a number of games, so that’s good even when things aren’t going their way.”
Despite the recent defeat, BU is still in a good place with three games left against conference opponents and the Patriot League Tournament looming. The Terriers find themselves at the top of the conference with 13 points, but Colgate University is right on their tail with 12 points.
A win Wednesday against the Crusaders on Senior Night would go a long way toward securing the team’s second straight Patriot League regular season title.
The Terriers come into Senior Night with one of the more balanced offensive attacks in the Patriot League. Twelve different players have scored for BU throughout the season, and the team ranks second in the league in a number of key offensive categories such as points, goals per game and assists.
One player who deserves a great deal of credit in the Terriers’ success this season is sophomore transfer Anthony Viteri. The midfielder came over from St. John’s University and has adjusted nicely to Roberts’ system.
Despite missing the last three games due to injury, Viteri still leads the team in goals with six and points with 14, and ranks third in the conference in goals as well.
He will miss the Holy Cross game as well, but Roberts said that “he’s almost ready,” and Viteri’s presence will be crucial to the BU’s play with the conference tournament just around the corner. As has been the case with the Terriers all season when a player goes down, look for different faces to step up in Viteri’s absence on Wednesday night.
One player who has played a big role recently for BU is sophomore forward Danny Foen. He had scored in two straight games leading up to the Lehigh (9-5-1, 3-3 Patriot League) contest, and was in position for his third goal in as many games until a Mountain Hawk headed the ball into the back of his own net.
The Cartagena, Colombia, native has seen his minutes increase as the season goes on. Look for Roberts to continue to rely on the underclassmen as the team enters the home stretch of the regular season.
“Danny’s come in and done very well for us,” Roberts said. “I think the more he plays, the more confident he gets. He’s very good at going at people, and we’re able to use him for that, so it’s been great that he can come in at a certain part of the game and use that ability to break teams down.”
Despite its record, Holy Cross is a strong team and should give BU a tough match. The Crusaders are second in the conference in goals-against average, limiting opponents to 0.69 goals per contest.
This is due, in part, to the play of senior goalkeeper Kevin Wright, who is the reigning Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week. He has a .817 save percentage this season, and boasts four shutouts.
The Crusaders are skilled offensively as well, with midfielder Yuji Callahan leading the team with 11 points (three goals, five assists) and forward Joey DeVivo not far behind with 10 points (four goals, two assists).
With their stout defense, look for the Terriers to attack early and often in attempt to claim another three points and get one step closer to the regular season conference title.
“Probably [the United States Naval Academy] and American [University] and maybe us are the three teams that attack and the rest of the league is a little bit more conservative,” Roberts said. “But you deal with it and you’re going to get chances. It’s just a matter of trying to break down the defense. There will be chances in the game, it’s just a matter of taking them.”