The Boston University men’s soccer team capped off an up-and-down season with a resounding 3-1 victory over the College of the Holy Cross at Nickerson Field on Wednesday.
The Terriers (4-9-3, 3-4-2 Patriot League) combined a strong offensive showing with a stalwart defense on Senior Night to defeat the Crusaders (8-7-3, 5-3-1 PL) in a conference matchup.
“It’s always nice to end the season on a positive note,” head coach Kevin Nylen said postgame. “I thought we were the better team from start to finish, and so really happy and proud of the guys.”
Sophomore midfielder and forward Eitan Rosen struck first for BU in the 23rd minute. Rosen controlled a well-placed through ball from senior midfielder Miles Dycaico in traffic and slotted it into the bottom right corner of the net to give the Terriers a 1-0 advantage.
Holy Cross found a prime opportunity to equalize just before the end of the first half, but freshman forward Evan Jones put a netfront chance wide of the net, allowing the Terriers to retain their lead into halftime.
BU doubled its advantage just under four minutes into the second half, after sophomore midfielder Andrew Rent drew a foul inside the Holy Cross 18-yard box to induce a penalty kick. Junior midfielder Quinn Matulis capitalized on the opportunity by placing a strike into the right side of the net to make the score 2-0.
Feeling the pressure of a two-goal deficit, Holy Cross upped its offensive intensity and forced a series of chances on net.
Holy Cross nearly cut into the Terriers’ lead in the 62nd minute, but BU junior goalkeeper Francesco Montali deflected Crusader senior midfielder Max Krause’s floating effort off the top of the crossbar to keep his clean sheet intact.
Krause also challenged Montali in the 78th minute, but the BU goalkeeper made an acrobatic highlight-reel-worthy save to deflect the shot off the top of the crossbar yet again.
Freshman midfielder Brian Hernandez put an exclamation point on the victory for the Terriers in the 87th minute, rifling a strike past Holy Cross junior goalkeeper Jimmy Joyce in the waning moments of the contest.
The Crusaders found a late goal from freshman forward and midfielder Jon Klein in the 89th minute of play to get on the board, but the tally proved to be too little too late for Holy Cross.
Although the Terriers had been mathematically eliminated from Patriot League tournament contention before the game, they seized an opportunity to play spoiler against Holy Cross. The Crusaders would have clinched the second seed in the tournament with a victory over BU, but now drop down to third after conceding the defeat.
Nylen said that although the Terriers had no playoff implications in the contest, he still told his team to focus on what a victory would mean for the direction of the program.
“We said to the guys, ‘We still have something to play for,’ and that’s what we believe in, and what we’re doing and how we’re continuing to push this program,” Nylen said. “We had a lot to play for tonight, even though we didn’t have playoff contention.”
The Terriers’ offensive production has finally picked up in recent weeks after a sluggish start to the season. BU has now scored 11 goals in its last five games after tallying just seven in its previous 11 matches.
With the win, the Terriers also posted their fourth consecutive victory at Nickerson Field after starting off the season with two home losses — one to the University of New Hampshire and another to the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Goalkeeper Michael Stone, fullback Nate Cole and midfielders Dycaico, Florian Rieder and Peter Kargbo were honored in a pregame Senior Day ceremony on the field.
“No better way to send them off than with a win on their last night of a game,” Nylen said. “Any guy who wears the jersey, you’re going to miss them because there’s leadership, there’s experience. It’s hard to replace that.”
Moving into the offseason, the Terriers will look to regroup, add talent to their roster and prepare for another run at the Patriot League championship next fall.