Coupled with the University at Albany’s scoreless draw against the University of Vermont yesterday, the Boston University men’s soccer team’s 2-0 win over the University of Hartford Saturday locked up its ninth America East regular-season title and, with it, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the conference tournament.
Despite being omitted from the Senior Day pre-game ceremonies, midfielder Jon Jonsson made his last regular-season game at Nickerson Field a memorable one, scoring the eventual game-winner in the 39th minute. Junior forward Shaun Taylor sealed the win with his team-leading ninth goal in the 89th minute after Ben Berube put on a ball-handling clinic to the left side of the net.
The Terriers (9-5-3, 6-1-1 AE) controlled the ball for almost the entire first half, but the Hawk (7-7-3, 3-4-1) defense bore down when it counted, holding BU without a shot for the first 38 minutes.
‘[Hartford] sat back in the first half,’ BU coach Neil Roberts said. ‘We tried to make them chase us and open up some areas and we were very patient with the ball. Then we got the goal. That was big because all they wanted to do was get into halftime 0-0.’
Jonsson sprinted behind the Hawk defense and freshman midfielder Michael Bustamante threaded a pass through two defenders to the feet of Jonsson. The Iceland native made a quick cut to his left and slid the ball past diving Hartford keeper Nenad Cudic and into the left side of the net for his second goal of the season.
‘I saw the lane and I saw Michael with the ball and I was like, ‘Michael!’ and he heard me,’ a jubilant Jonsson said. ‘Fortunately, he heard me and he passed the ball ‘-‘- amazing pass. And what was I to do? One touch. Finish it. And that’s what I did.’
Down by a goal, the Hawks boosted their attack in the second half. In the 71st minute, Hartford sent a cross into the box that senior keeper Hrafn Davidsson misjudged. It went over his head, but freshman back Colin Henry was there to clear it out.
Hartford’s best chance came in the 78th minute when freshman forward Patrick Boucher carried the ball into the box and created an open shot. Luckily for the Terriers, it skidded wide left.
The biggest reason the Hawks were held off the board was that BU’s defense, led by senior captain Dan Schultz, was able to shut down junior forward Carlos Villa, America East’s leading scorer.
‘I was trying to just stay tight to [Villa] and have [sophomore] Matt Shea and Colin Henry give me depth whenever I pressured him,’ Schultz said.
Roberts credited BU’s team defense for not letting the ball even get to Villa.
‘The key was we were able to limit the services to him,’ Roberts said. ‘We pressured the ball to make sure they couldn’t get a good look into him.’
With almost two minutes left in regulation, Berube dazzled the 216 fans in attendance with one move after another against a slew of Hartford defenders. He gathered the ball on the left side of the field and moved toward the corner flag.
The game of keep-away quickly turned into a spectacle of flashy moves, as Berube spun past two defenders and sprinted by a third along the goal line, winding up at the edge of the six-yard box. He found a wide-open Taylor, who made sure Berube’s efforts were not in vain.
‘Ben was just trying to kill time,’ Roberts said. ‘But then every time he tried to kick it off [the defender], the guy would kind of jump out of the way. Then, Ben would get closer to the goal and try to kick it off him again, and the guy would jump back again. And the next thing you know, Ben was inside the six and he just passed it over to Shaun.’