NCAA, Soccer, Sports

Despite a disappointing season, the future is bright for men’s soccer

The Boston University men’s soccer team (4-9-3, 3-4-2 Patriot League) ended the season with a disappointing record. However, with a stretch of home wins to close the chapter and an ever-growing team bond, they couldn’t be more optimistic about the future and what it has in store for them.

The Terriers are hungry to prove that they are better than the record shows following a Fall schedule that saw them win just four games in total. However, a closer look indicates that this team is already heading in the right direction and has the momentum and confidence to become a competitive Patriot League conference contender next season.

Boston University men’s soccer players huddle during their final game of the season Nov. 3 against the College of the Holy Cross. Despite a disappointing season, the Terriers ended their season on a strong note and are optimistic about the future. MOHAN GE/ DFP FILE

“As a group and as a staff … of course, we want to do better,” head coach Kevin Nylen said. “Now we have to be able to take a lot of adversity and lessons that we were able to live this past Fall, and try to learn from those and be better.”

For the Terriers, it isn’t a matter of skill or aptitude that is holding them back. Each player has been carefully picked to fit into the system like a puzzle piece. The issue is figuring out how to piece the puzzle together in 90 minutes.

“You’ve got to learn how to win,” Nylen said. “At the end of the day, [it’s] performing, doing what you do every day, being consistent. It has nothing to do with confidence.”

Of those who gave it their all on the pitch, senior back Gianluca Arlotti stood out, becoming the first BU defender to earn All-Patriot League Second Team honors since Josh Barkoff in 2018.

“It was a deserving recognition for him, but you don’t play the game for individual recognition,” Nylen said. “We play this game to be together, to win, to have pride to represent BU men’s soccer.” 

Terriers end the season on a strong note

In their last showing of the season, the Terriers managed to fend off a hungry Holy Cross Crusader team that was vying for a first-round bye in the postseason. With nothing to lose, the Terriers refused to back down and handed their opponents a decisive 3-1 win. It was a statement that this team always leaves everything on the pitch. 

“That tells me that they didn’t waver,” Nylen said. “We may have lost nine games, we may have tied three, but our guys never quit. That alone is going to pay dividends as we continue to move forward.” 

Despite nine overall losses, the Terriers managed to finish their last six games with a 3-1-2 record, securing big wins over Colgate University, Holy Cross and local rivals Northeastern University. More than a matter of just winning, Nylen said the problem lies not with ability, but with mentality and perception, with the Terriers failing to secure an away win. 

“We’ve got to be really good from a mentality perspective,” Nylen said. “We have to be understanding and objective of what we’re trying to do and where we’re at, being humble everyday.”

The talent is there, it’s now time to get to work

Granted, no college soccer conference is easy, and navigating the terrain proves even more difficult for a coaching staff and team that just completed their first full season together. But excuses isn’t a word you’ll find in the team’s vocabulary, and the Terriers are fully aware of what work needs to be done and what potential has yet to be unlocked.

“This group is good,” Nylen said. “This group is resilient, it’s strong and has work in front of them, but what a positive group and what a time to be a part of it.” 

With this chapter done and dusted, the Terriers are already setting their sights on the season to come. A hunger to prove that they are better than their record has driven the team to set high standards for 2022, with Nylen looking to make his first appearance as BU’s head coach in the postseason conference tournament.

I want this team to know that … we ended a season without having a chance to participate in a conference tournament,” Nylen said. “I want our team to remember the feeling of what they saw when Lehigh celebrated when they beat us to determine who was going to have a chance to go to the postseason. … I want them to remember all those [moments] and then come back even more hungry.”

It will mean turning shining moments on the pitch into the new Terrier standard. But the bar has been set, and Nylen won’t settle for anything less than making those goals — on and off the pitch.

“We’ve got to aim to be in the conference tournament. If you ask any single guy on the team, they’ll say the same thing,” Nylen said. “We’ve got work ahead of us.”

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