Twenty-six fouls do not usually lead to positive results, but on Saturday night the Boston University men’s soccer team overcame a season-high in fouls in their 2-0 win over Lehigh University.
The Terriers (3-6-1, 2-0 Patriot League) were ahead from the get-go via a penalty kick midway through the eighth minute and used sophomore goalkeeper Michael Bernardi’s second shutout of the season to stymie the Mountain Hawks (6-3, 1-1 Patriot League) attack.
Despite the win, BU head coach Neil Roberts said the fouls conceded need to be cut in half, but the physicality of the team is something that will stay.
“The fouls are obviously a little bit too many, but I think this is kind of going to be the identity of the team,” Roberts said. “We don’t want that many fouls, but some of them were kind of ticky tack so to speak. We’re going to be a physical team. It’s something that a BU team hasn’t been in a while, but the situation dictates.”
Lehigh came into the game compiling the fifth highest points in the nation, but only managed to place four of their fifteen shots on target.
After a Lehigh foul in the box, freshman midfielder Toti Knutsson converted from the penalty spot less than nine minutes in to give the Terriers a 1-0 lead, his second goal of the season.
The Gardabaer, Iceland native had four of seven Terrier shot attempts and was clearly an attacking impetus throughout the game.
Roberts noted Knutsson’s importance on the field, but said he’s still learning.
“He’s learning the system here and what to expect,” Roberts said. “I think you’ll see him, the more he gets relaxed, the better he’ll do. He’s always been on the verge of doing things for us and now it’s going to fall in place for him.”
Knutsson is now the Terriers’ first player with multiple goals on the season and leads the team in points with five.
Lehigh was in search of an equalizer after Knutsson’s early goal and BU was looking to add an insurance to their one goal lead. However, neither team was able to get a shot past Bernardi or Lehigh sophomore goaltender Will Smith.
A shot from junior midfielder Alex Greene at the top of the box, which skidded just wide of the right post in the 22nd minute, came inches from providing the equalizer.
Roberts said that his team’s defense was largely due to preparedness.
“Our guys were ready,” Roberts said. “We knew what they were going to do. It was just a matter of us being disciplined defensively and not letting them get behind us, which I think only once in the game they really did. It was a group effort to make sure we contained the two.”
Back-to-back corner kicks coming out of the half for Lehigh almost led to an equalizer, but a Greene header could do no better than the inside of the post.
A free kick from Lehigh junior forward Mark Forrest almost provided the Mountain Hawks with their first goal of the game at the 72nd minute of the contest, but Bernardi made a leaping save to knock the ball over the crossbar.
Sophomore midfielder Mana Chavali took a pass from Knutsson at the top of the box and rifled a shot past Smith, giving the Terriers their second goal of the game.
BU returns home for a Wednesday night tilt against the College of the Holy Cross, having won their last three contests against the Crusaders (3-4-2, 1-0-1 Patriot League).
Roberts said the upcoming matchup will provide a challenge that his team will need to be prepared for.
“For this team this year, everything’s going to be a challenge and as long as we come prepared and know what we need to do for that particular match, we have a chance,” Roberts said. “It’ll be a challenge and I think our guys will respond.”