The Boston University men’s soccer team entered its non-conference matchup Tuesday night against Harvard University riding a two-game win streak. The Terriers (3-9-1, 2-3 Patriot League) had a strong start, but did not find the back of the net until the second half via junior forward Zion Balogun’s first goal of the season to extend their win streak with a 2-0 shutout at Nickerson Field.
BU started out the game dominating offensively with nine shots and two corner kicks in the first 16 minutes. Harvard (0-8-1) struggled on offense throughout the half with no shots until the 52nd minute.
Terrier senior forward Matt McDonnell, also named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week Monday, was an offensive force throughout the first half with three shots, one on goal.
However, he left the field in the 26th minute with an apparent injury after colliding with a Crimson defender in what was a near goal. McDonnell, whose junior campaign was cut short after five games, returned to the bench at the start of the second half but did not play.
BU head coach Neil Roberts said the key to stifling Harvard shots was his team’s efforts to put pressure on its opponent from the very beginning of the contest.
“…We tried to pressure them right from the beginning. That was our plan,” Roberts said. “In the first half, it worked well for the first 25 minutes. When [McDonnell] went down we kind of lost our way a little bit, but we picked it back up in the second half and I think we got some good services.”
Freshman midfielder Miles Dycaico had a standout performance and was a threat to the Crimson defense along with McDonnell, leading the Terriers with four shots in the first 14 minutes.
BU dominated the first half in shots with 11 while Harvard was unable to get any past junior goalkeeper Michael Stone in the half, who finished the night with two saves.
Despite the lopsided shot count, neither team was able to find the back of the net.
The Terriers continued the offensive push to start the second half with junior midfielder Toti Knutsson charging the goal but was stopped by Harvard freshman goalkeeper Oskar Nilsson.
Roberts credited Knutsson with having a “great game.”
The Crimson’s shot drought ended in the 52nd minute with a shot on goal from freshman Sam Pratt, closely followed by a shot from senior Taner Dogan that sailed over the upper right corner.
Roberts said the main strength for BU during the game was its strong defense.
“I know we scored two goals, but we really committed to defending and making it difficult for them so they really didn’t get anything easy,” Roberts said.
The Terriers’ two goals came consecutively after Zion Balogun scored the team’s first goal of the evening during the 59th minute.
Two minutes and 28 seconds later, Balogun attacked on the right wing and crossed into the box, where freshman midfielder Marc Roura connected to score his first collegiate goal.
“Zion is a very talented player, so we’ve just been trying to find ways to get him going,” Roberts said. “He’s been struggling a little bit all season and we’re just trying to bring him in off the bench, bring him in at certain times to get his confidence going.”
BU nearly had a third goal in the 76th minute when sophomore midfielder Kari Petursson had a clear path to the goal, but was unable to bury it past Nilsson and hit the right post.
Petursson is currently tied for second on the team in points with four, and he recorded three shots in each matchup against the College of the Holy Cross on Oct. 2 and Colgate University on Oct. 5.
The Terriers will travel to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania Sunday afternoon to take on Bucknell University in what will be BU’s sixth Patriot League matchup this season.