Soccer, Sports

Men’s soccer ties Bucknell in penultimate Patriot League contest

Nicki Wieners and the Terriers clinched a first-round bye in the Patriot League Tournament. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/ DFP FILE PHOTO

The Boston University men’s soccer team fought for a win against Bucknell University to claim its fifth conference victory on the road this season. However, the match, which used up all 110 of its allotted minutes, ended in a 0-0 draw Saturday afternoon in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

This was the seventh consecutive match between the Terriers (7-7-3, 6-1-1 Patriot League) and the Bison (6-7-4, 4-3-1 Patriot League) that went into overtime.

BU head coach Neil Roberts credited this to the team’s similar playing styles and defenses.

“They have a good defense, and they obviously matched up against us,” Roberts said. “We had two good looks in the first half and we didn’t take advantage of them. Those things can change the game and we didn’t change the game.”

These two opportunities came when a misplay by Bucknell goalkeeper Emmett Witmer left the net wide open.

Freshman midfielder Toti Knutsson fired a shot from just outside the box that was deflected off a Bison defender and then sophomore midfielder Satchel Cortet sent the rebound over the crossbar at the 12th minute.

Throughout the rest of the first half, neither team had any quality scoring chances, as both sides defended well, clearing any balls that had the potential to become threats.

One final chance for BU came toward the end of the stanza, when freshman forward Austin D’Anna controlled the ball at the top of the 18-yard box. However, a collision between him and Bucknell defender Quinn Bredin prevented D’Anna from getting a shot off.

As the second half got underway, both teams continued to exhibit solid defense.

Much of the gameplay was back and forth, and neither team could create consistent offensive pressure. The few chances BU’s offense had came off of corner kicks with four occurring in the second half, but were quickly cleared by the Bison’s defense.

“The final execution for us in the final third just wasn’t there,” Roberts said of his team’s defense. “There were a lot of numbers back there so it was difficult. [Bucknell’s defense] sat very deep and we didn’t go a good job breaking it down, but [the] guys fought hard and put everything into it, we just couldn’t get the goal.”

The Terriers had a few late chances in the second half.

In the 77th minute, sophomore midfielder Jerry Ozor sent a shot that sailed just over the crossbar and 12 minutes later, Cortet followed up with another shot barely missing the net.

On the other hand, Bucknell had a golden opportunity in the 63rd minute of the match, when freshman midfielder Cody Wax sent a header past sophomore goalkeeper Michael Bernardi, but just wide of the net.

During overtime, the Bison once again put some pressure on Bernardi, as he was forced to make a lunging save following a header from senior forward Ben Derleth after a long ball sent from the other side of the field by Witmer.

The overtime periods were both fast-paced and physical, as both teams tried to create offensive attacks.

One final chance came for the Terriers in the 104th minute, when junior midfielder Nicki Wieners received a cross from Knuttson — but headed the ball over the net.

Although Roberts was disappointed in the draw, he said he was impressed with his team’s defensive performance.

Senior back Adam Sheikali and junior back Josh Barkoff cleared many of Bucknell’s offensive balls and led to a number of BU counterattacks.

“With Ben [Valek] being out, we’ve tried to get some steadiness with Josh [Barkoff] and [Sheikali],” Roberts said. “That’s another game under their belt, so that’s a good thing, and we’ll go from there.”

The Terriers now have a bye through the first round of the upcoming Patriot League tournament, and will face Colgate University at Nickerson Field next Friday for their final regular season game.

“What these guys have done this season so far has been fantastic,” Roberts said. “We’ve been changing parts every day. The guys keep fighting and and battling. Guys have stepped up and done a good job … Luckily we have couple days off, so we’ll regroup and see what our tactics will be against Colgate.”

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