The Boston University men’s soccer team opened up Patriot League play Saturday in Easton, Pennsylvania with a tough 2-1 loss against Lafayette College.
The Terriers (0-6-1, 0-1 Patriot League) were defeated in the final minutes when the Leopards (5-1-1, 1-0 Patriot League) scored the game-winner in the 87th minute.
Lafayette freshman Yiannis Panayides delivered the decisive goal with a missile fired from well outside the penalty box to beat the BU goalkeeper and earn the home team the win.
BU head coach Neil Roberts said the team fought hard but their opponents continue to exploit their weaknesses to set-pieces.
“The kids played extremely hard,” Roberts said. “We gave up a late goal in the first half off a set play, which has been our Achilles’ heel the whole season.”
The first half was a defensive battle with Lafayette getting only four shots off in the first 45 minutes while holding BU to zero shots in the half.
The Leopards found the back of the net first in this defensive battle. In the 34th minute Lafayette set up for a corner from the right side and senior midfielder Adam Bramson jumped in front of a cluster of Terriers to head the ball into the far side of the net to score his first goal of the season.
In the 42nd minute junior Elias Lampis collided heads with a teammate while defending a corner kick. Lampis’ head was cut open and he had to be subbed from the game.
Roberts said Lampis needed eight stitches above his eye and that he will probably miss the next game against Northeastern.
The first half got chippy at points with both teams showing high emotions and throwing in the occasional extracurricular shove or kick after a physical play. The Terriers finished with 11 fouls and the Leopards with 13.
Neither team was able to find any sort of offensive momentum to start the second half. The teams traded possessions without too much penetration into the penalty area except for an open shot from the Leopards in the 66th minute that was saved by junior goalkeeper Michael Stone.
The Terriers had a let-off in the 68th minute, when Lafayette was awarded a penalty kick but senior midfielder Chris Gomez pushed it far right to hold the score at 1-0.
The Terriers’ offense continued its struggles through the second half, with errant passes and turnovers and on BU’s only corner the cross went far over the box and turned into a dangerous counterattack.
Stone once again kept BU alive by making a tough sliding save in a one-on-one opportunity off Lafayette’s counterattack that left a wide open man in the middle of the field as the ball progressed down the right wing.
Then the Terriers finally equalized off a long-shot goal by sophomore midfielder Kari Petursson that bounced right off the hands of the Lafayette goalkeeper.
Roberts said he pushed his team forward to avoid playing another overtime period.
“Once we got the goal we knew overtime wasn’t a very good option,” Roberts said. “The kids have played two straight overtime games and the legs were heavy for sure.”
The Leopards would pick up their goalkeeper in the 87th minute with a firecracker of a goal from Panayides who delivered a strike from well outside the penalty box to give Lafayette the 2-1 lead.
The Terriers had one final attempt to tie the game up with their best shot opportunity of the game inside the Leopard’s penalty box with 20 seconds left in the game but the shot was driven wide left and Lafayette survived with a 2-1 victory.
The Terriers will return to Boston Tuesday to play at Northeastern University for an out-of-conference game and will continue conference play on Saturday at Lehigh University.
Roberts said Northeastern and the large gap between games provides an opportunity to practice the things that are hurting the Terriers.
“We can use the non-conference game to get ourselves together, hopefully working on set-plays and not giving up goals on them,” Roberts said. “Then we need to get more goals on our flanks, offensively, the major problem we’re having is we’re not dangerous enough in the flanks.”