The name of senior forward Esen Harris is one that seemed unlikely to appear on the box score of a Boston University men’s soccer game. The Covina, California native appeared in three games his freshman campaign and has seen 18 minutes of field time this season.
However, Harris broke the Terriers’ (0-4) three-game scoreless spell and was the first player to find the back of the net during BU’s exhibition game against the Haiti National Olympic Team on Sunday at Nickerson Field.
During the same game, senior forward Eric Mubang, another player who has logged 30 minutes this season, made his time count, scoring the Terriers’ second goal.
“They work hard so I was happy that they got the opportunity and took advantage of it,” BU head coach Neil Roberts said.
In the absence of BU’s high-scoring former offensive players Anthony Viteri and Felix De Bona, many players have seen new roles and the Terriers will need to look toward new outlets for the offense this season.
Roberts said that many young players will have the opportunities to step up and fill these roles, but he also noted that the team is still “trying to get our game together.”
“We’re just trying to find the identity of our team, which we haven’t quite got yet, but we’re getting there,” Roberts said. “This is a little bit different team right now because we’re actually just trying to get our game together and that’s all we’re really concerned about.”
Team focusing on defense
While the exhibition game against Haiti resulted in a draw, BU was able to maintain a 2-0 lead at the hands of its defense. Sophomore goalkeeper Michael Bernardi made two crucial saves in the first 16 minutes of the game and the Terrier backline controlled the rebound of the second shot.
However, BU’s lead did not last long and Haiti scored two goals within five minutes toward the end of the second half. Roberts attributed the Haiti goals to his players’ fatigue.
“Those guys that are out there playing haven’t played a lot and were very, very tired so I think [the result of the game] was really due to how [Haiti] scored the goals,” Roberts said. “But I think our defense will come in time.”
Roberts said that the team is focusing on defending better and also minimizing common mistakes. However, he noted that many problems, which have hindered its defense, are communication-related.
“I think it’s just the communication between the group,” Roberts said. “The problems that we’re having right now are all communication problems.”
Jerry Ozor boosted offense while notching two assists
Like many other players on the team, it took sophomore midfielder Jerry Ozor three regular season games to find success on the other end of the field during the team’s exhibition game against Haiti. While the Accra, Ghana native has rattled off a shot at the goal during each regular season game; none have connected with the back of the net or another player.
Ozor led the team last season in assists with five. During the exhibition game, Ozor was able to take three shots and two shots on goal, successfully collecting two assists during the game.
“His passing is his key so I think that Jerry’s game isn’t there right now, but I’m hoping that it’s coming,” Roberts said. “He’s a very talented player so I think it’s a matter of time.”
Filling the gaps left behind by players who have left the team will likely take more time and will remain a large component in the progression of the Terriers this season.
Roberts added that many of the players, new or returning, are still adjusting.
“Everyone’s kind of in new roles right now so it’s a little bit new for everybody even [for] a returning player like Jerry,” Roberts said.