The Boston University men’s soccer team fell to No. 8 Boston College in its first game of the season Saturday afternoon in Newton, suffering the same fate it did last year against the 2-0 Eagles ﹘ a 3-2 defeat.
The Terriers (0-1) put forth a valiant effort against their Commonwealth Avenue rivals, and despite scoring the first and final goals of the contest, were done in by the Eagles’ relentless offense.
Arguably BU’s toughest contest of the year due to the opponent and timing in its schedule, the game against BC was not taken lightly by BU head coach Neil Roberts and company. However, he knew that this game was within reach from the first whistle.
“We got work to do,” Roberts said. “BC is a good team, but I think we left them off the hook a bit.”
After a failed corner attempt from BU 18 minutes into the contest, the Eagles kicked the ball out of play and the Terriers were fast on the reset. The quick play saw sophomore midfielder Magnus Benediktsson in the box, who shot it low off of BC keeper Cedric Saladin. On the rebound, junior midfielder and MAC Hermann Trophy watch list member Anthony Viteri came streaking in, and slotted it past the keeper for the first Terrier goal of the year.
BC turned the game around though, scoring three unanswered goals. With a little over seven minutes remaining in the first half, freshman Red Bulls prospect and BC freshman Callum Johnson put a routine corner kick into the box. Sophomore Joshua Forbes foot knocked it past senior keeper Matt Gilbert and netted the equalizer.
Riding off momentum just three minutes later, BC senior Maximilian Schulze-Geisthovel played the ball towards the crowd side of the pitch. He made a nifty move through the legs of the BU defender and continued to run down the field to roll it past a stranded Gilbert, putting BC ahead 2-1.
“The two [BC] goals in the first half were disappointing,” Roberts said. “We lost our shape on the second one. The first one we were just open, and we knew that with the way we’re playing, we can’t be exposed like that.”
The dagger would come in the 70th minute, when sophomore Simon Enstrom, the forward who stunned BU’s home crowd last year with two goals, made a strong run on the far side past several defenders. Much like the goal scored by Schulze-Geisthovel, Gilbert was left open, allowing Enstrom to put it on the opposite corner of the net.
Enstrom, a native of Huddinge, Sweden, would later be the victim of Terrier aggression, as with 14 minutes left to play, sophomore defenseman Ben Valek attempted a slide tackle on the BC forward, and hit directly into his legs. Enstrom slumped to the ground for several minutes while the referee delivered a red card to Valek.
With the Terriers down to ten men, BU’s other MAC Hermann Trophy contender, senior forward Felix De Bona, attempted to spark a comeback effort. In the final three minutes, he caused a turnover and a shot on a prone Saladin. De Bona’s sixth shot of the night rolled over the goalkeeper and into the net, but the score would remain 3-2 with BC eating out the clock in the waning minutes.
Robert noticed that his team struggled with fitness throughout the afternoon, a common struggle among teams this time of year.
“Our execution needs to be a little bit better,” Roberts said. “I’m disappointed that fitness was an issue and guys couldn’t go as long as I would like them to go, especially in their first game. But that’s something that we have to work on.”
While fatigue was an issue, it still gave the opportunity for four freshmen, Jerry Ozor, Matt McDonnell, Jasper Verplancke and Satchel Cortet, to receive some quality minutes against a nationally ranked opponent. But how did Roberts think they played in their first game?
“Like freshmen,” he answered. “They are going to be good players, but we just have to give them some experience and they will be better players in the next game for sure.”
With the team’s next match against the University of Massachusetts not until Sept. 10, Coach Roberts knows that there is plenty of time to prepare and learn from its mistakes in the season opener. For his Terriers, though, he knows one thing is certain, especially after the late game heroics from De Bona.
“[This team] never quits, and they never will,” Roberts said.