After coming off a three-game winning streak, the Boston University men’s soccer team continues to finish games strong.
Since its fifth loss without a goal to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Terriers have been on a tear, winning five out of their last seven games while only dropping a 2-1 loss to Brown University and seeing a 1-1 draw to Princeton University in the process.
BU head coach Neil Roberts said the turnaround was due to his players.
“Credit to the guys sticking to the plan and being patient,” Roberts said. “Just working on time, to fixing mistakes. They didn’t lose faith and now we’re in a much better spot than we were at the start of the season.”
Since the turning point in this season against UMass Amherst (8-2-2), the Terriers were able to bury 12 goals to their opponents’ three and cultivate shutouts for every win during this run.
Leading the scoring for the Terriers is sophomore forward Matt McDonnell. His three goals are good for 10th place in the Patriot League.
Five shutouts are not easy feat to accomplish in a seven-game window, but sophomore goalkeeper Michael Bernardi has done all he can to keep the ball out of the net, coming up with 17 saves in his last five games.
Bernardi’s recent hot streak in net
Bernardi got off to a rough start this season after allowing six goals in his first two games, but since then the transfer has lead his team to four shutout wins over the past seven contests.
It appears that Bernardi has found a comfort zone and a chemistry with his backline. After all, letting the ball pass into the net cannot be solely put on the shoulders of the goalkeeper.
Bernardi was awarded the Patriot League’s Goalkeeper of the Week for his efforts of the course of last week.
Bernardi has stepped in for freshman goalkeeper William Bonnelyche. The Stockholm native went down with an injury earlier in the year.
Before the injury, Bonnelyche had won one out of the five games he appeared.
Despite not starting all of the games for the Terriers, Bernardi currently ranks fourth in the Patriot League in goals allowed average and is fourth in the league in saves.
Roberts said that the team’s defensive chemistry has improved and has been able to limit the shots at the net.
“[The] team has played well in front of him,” Roberts said. “We’ve limited scoring opportunities, which in turn gives our attack opportunities to score. The scoring opportunities [for opponents] have been at a minimum.”
BU has since steadily improved its defense and given its team a chance to score goals.
Improved defense leads the Terriers to a 4-0 start in Patriot League
After a slow start to the season and conference play approaching, BU had to turn its results around quickly.
Five losses to non-conference opponents seemed to prepare the Terriers to salvage their 2017 campaign by winning their first four Patriot League matches.
During this 4-0 conference unbeaten streak, BU has scored nine goals while also not allowing a single goal in their own net.
The Terriers’ focused effort on the defensive side of the ball have propelled the players to a state where they can control the game and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.
BU is on a three-game win streak and will look to keep it alive through strong defense when it faces the rest of its Patriot League rivals, starting with Loyola Maryland at Nickerson Field this Saturday.
Pacing the defense is current Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week, senior defender Adam Sheikali. In addition to his standout defense, Sheikali is also part of the offensive game plan for the Terriers as his three points have him tied for sixth on the team.
Roberts said that his team is “going to stick to what we’re doing” in terms of how it plans on maintaining such a high performance for the rest of the season.
“This team adjusts well to different team tactics,” Roberts said. “Right now we want to have a chance to win every game. At the beginning of the season, we didn’t do that. We’re down 2-0 early against good teams and made it impossible to give ourselves a chance. If we stick to our game plan and have faith in each other, we should make each game a competitive one.”