In front of a crowded Nickerson Field at the eighth annual Terrier Tailgate, the Boston University men’s soccer team took a tough loss 1-0 at the hands of Brown University thanks to a header goal in the 85th minute from junior Tariq Akeel.
The goal came off of a set piece caused by a BU foul that allowed defender Jack Gorab to send a ball into the box that Akeel finished on.
“In the last five minutes, it was just a shame,” said BU coach Neil Roberts. “We committed a silly foul in a very bad area, the guy really was not going anywhere. There was not any danger, and then it’s a shame because we spent all day yesterday defending and making sure everyone was accounted for.”
A slow-paced first half saw limited attacks and quite a few missed chances due to some of the Terriers’ usual starting players substituting into the game later on, a move made for some due to injury, like senior forward Dominique Badji.
Badji was held out of the first half before starting the second and recording two shots.
“He looked fine in the second half, and he’s got a week now,” Roberts said of Badji. “There’s no way he could have went the whole game, but it was good to get 45 minutes in.”
The Terriers (2-2) first chance of the game did not come until the 21st minute, while their first recorded shot did not occur until the 47th minute on a corner kick from freshman defender Bjarki Benediktsson that the team could not convert.
“The effort was good. We played well,” Roberts said. “The first half tactically, we were conservative, and that’s what we wanted. We had some guys out who we wanted to contain them and attack on the counter. They had a couple things bounce around the box but nothing serious.”
One of the Terriers’ best opportunities of the night came in the 61st minute when freshman midfielder David Amirani created some space in front of the 30-yard box and launched a shot attempt that went over the top right side of the goal post.
BU’s freshmen have made a big impact on this year’s team, as Benediktsson and Amirani each played all 90 minutes, and even though they played soundly, they still have a ways to go to achieve their potential, Roberts said.
“They’re coming and obviously they’re making mistakes, but they’re going to be good players. We just have to limit the mistakes,” he said.
In the second half of the game, the Terriers really seemed to take control with Badji and his scoring partner — sophomore forward Felix De Bona — entering the game.
BU really turned on its offensive game and had four shots within the opening 15 minutes of the second half.
“In the second half, we got [Badji] in who has an injury, so we got more offensive obviously, and it worked,” Roberts said. “We dominated, the energy was good, the passing was good, but we obviously didn’t finish.”
The Terriers’ best chance may have been in the 56th minute when sophomore midfielder David Asbjornsson had a shot that sailed just wide of the net and the reach of Brown goalie Mitch Kupstas.
Brown had five shots in each half while the Terriers recorded all eight of theirs in the second half, even though Kuptas finished with zero saves and BU senior goalkeeper Nick Thomson finished with four.
Through four games, it is safe to say that the current weakness of the team stands with the ability to finish scoring chances. BU has had 56 shots but only converted two of them, which translates to a .036 shot percentage.
“There’s nothing you can do to help finishing except create chances like we’re doing,” Roberts said. “Hopefully these guys will finish them. These guys will eventually start finishing them off.”