Soccer, Sports

Struggling men’s soccer set to take on one-win Harvard

The Boston University men’s soccer team lost on 5–1 to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County Saturday night, ending the Terriers’ four-game unbeaten streak. On Tuesday, the Terriers look to start a new streak against cross-river Cambridge rivals Harvard University.

Although the Terriers (4–6–4, 1–1–2 America East) have seemingly faced a tough schedule all season long, the Crimson do not appear to pose as much of a threat as others have to the Terriers. Coming into the game, Harvard has a record of 1–7–3 overall, while holding a 0–2–1 record in the Ivy League Conference.

The Crimson’s only win of the season was all the way back on Sept. 7, when they defeated Michigan State University. Most recently the Crimson dropped their last two games to No. 16 Cornell University by a score of 3–1, and 2–1 to No. 19 Brown University.

“They’ve had a tough schedule,” said BU coach Neil Roberts. “They have a lot to prove, and I’m sure they’re going to play us tough.”

Throughout Harvard’s campaign they have played in a number of close games, similar to how BU’s season has gone. Six of its games have been decided by one goal, three by ties and one game was decided by two goals. Things have not been bouncing the Crimson’s way in these games as they have only won one of these close battles.

One major problem with Harvard is its lack of offense. Throughout the 2012–13 season, Harvard has not generated more than two goals in a game, which only happened once. The Crimson have only been averaging a low 12.1 shots a game, which has culminated in 0.7 goals per game. When they do shoot however, they have not been able to put the ball on goal. Throughout the season, the Crimson have only been able to boast a .408 shots-on-goal percentage against conference foes while just .391 overall.

Although the season has been a subpar one for Harvard, the Crimson have had a few bright spots which they can look forward to over the course of the season’s remainder and into the future.

One of these bright spots has been freshman forward Jake Freeman.

The freshman comes to the Crimson after captaining his high school team during the 2011 campaign. So far with Harvard, he has provided some spark that could be potentially dangerous for the Terriers on Tuesday night. Freeman is tied for the team lead in points with four, having scored two goals this year. Although Freeman has only started in three of Harvard’s games, he has still been an impact player.

Freeman scored a crucial goal against Michigan State, which ended up being the game-winner. He also leads the team in shots with 22, and is fifth on the team in shots on goal percentage at .636.

For the Terriers, this means that any time Freeman touches the ball near the goal, sophomore goalie Nick Thomson must be on his toes and ready to defend the net.

Despite the power outage on offense for the Crimson, their defense has kept them in most games. Harvard’s mostly young defense led by a bevy of sophomores has limited opponents to 1.68 goals a game, which has allowed the Crimson to be in any game they play.

The Crimson have been working a goalie platoon, using freshmen, Joe Festa and Evan Mendez. Festa has the slight edge in playing time, and has solid numbers. In seven games started he’s had a strong .714 save percentage while allowing 1.50 goals a game.

“Both of us have been struggling out there,” Roberts said. “You’ll see two hungry teams going at it on the field Tuesday.”

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