Soccer, Sports

Men’s soccer falls 2-1 in its first Patriot League loss to Loyola

The Terriers could be forced to play without junior Ben Valek. PHOTO BY BRIGID KING/ DFP FILE PHOTO

The Boston University men’s soccer team battled Loyola University Maryland at Nickerson Field on Saturday in hopes of continuing its undefeated conference play. However, the Terriers (5-7-1, 4-1 Patriot League) lost their first Patriot League match of the season this weekend, falling to the Greyhounds (8-4-1, 4-1 Patriot League), 2-1.

BU entered the game at the top of the conference standings, outscoring its opponents thus far 9-0. It proved to be a challenge containing midfielder Barry Sharifi and the rest of Loyola’s offense.

Sharifi entered the match with three goals while teammate and 2016 Patriot League Rookie of the Year forward Brian Saramago also had three goals on the season.

In the first half, the Terriers’ defense, which had been strong in recent games, was unable to live up to its previous performances.

Sharifi was able to strike a loose ball past sophomore goalkeeper Michael Bernardi in the 19th minute, after BU’s defense could not successfully clear.

The Terrier head coach Neil Roberts noted the defensive struggles early on.

“We just didn’t clear the ball well,” Roberts said. “It’s been a problem we’ve had. Against a good team like this, when you give them second opportunities, they’re going to take advantage of it.”

Less than two minutes later, Greyhound back Mickey Watson netted the ball after yet another failed clear by BU.

Loyola’s freshman goalkeeper Chase Vosvick stifled the few opportunities the Terriers had, including a diving header in the 21st minute by sophomore forward Matt McDonnell, one of only two shots for BU in the first stanza.

The second half opened with the momentum switching sides. BU was able to put much more offensive pressure on the Greyhounds and the defense seemed to return to its normal shape.

“We changed some things up a little bit [in the second half],” Roberts said. “[Junior back] Josh [Barkoff] came into midfield and won the ball and did a good job there.”

This change paid off in the 51st minute when sophomore midfielder Mana Chavali scored his second goal of the season by capitalizing on McDonnell’s header from an accurate cross by freshman midfielder Toti Knutsson.

The Terriers continued to put pressure on Loyola, creating opportunity after opportunity to knot the score.

A shot from reigning Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week McDonnell in the 80th minute almost proved to be the equalizer, but Vosvick was able to leap up and deflect it.

As the final minutes wound down, BU’s intensity further increased as the team kept the ball on the offensive side of the field. However, one final shot attempt by senior back Adam Sheikali failed to find the back of the net and the buzzer sounded, ending the match at the score of 2-1.

The Terriers managed to outshoot the Greyhounds in the second half 9-1, but came up just short. Roberts attributed this to Vosvick in keeping his team’s offense contained.

“Their keeper made two bigs saves,” Roberts said. “[McDonnell] did a great job getting in there, taking the ball down and getting a quality shot off, but the keeper made a big save, so you have to tip your cap to him. I like the chances that we created and they didn’t fall, but you have to create them before you can get them to fall.”

The Terriers lost more than just the game on Saturday, as junior back Ben Valek suffered a shoulder injury and had to exit the game.

The loss also marked the first conference game so far in which the Terriers allowed a goal.

BU will face its last non-league rival, Northeastern University, on Tuesday and Roberts said he hopes his team can bounce back and learn from the mistakes made on Saturday.

“We can look at some things at Northeastern and get ready for Navy,” Roberts said. “We have to see how [Valek] is and go from there.”

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