Boston University’s men’s soccer team remains scoreless on the season despite a season-high 22 shots against Hockey East rival and new division one soccer program Merrimack College in the two programs’ first-ever soccer match.
The Terriers (0-4) failed to find the back of the net for the fourth straight game as the Warriors (2-0) proved they belong in division one after converting a pair of goals and a penalty en route to a 3-0 victory.
BU men’s soccer head coach Neil Roberts said the Terriers are battling through the mounting frustrations of being shutout for a stretch of four games in a row.
“It’s just a matter of keeping our heads up,” Roberts said. “They’re frustrated, no doubt about it … they’ve really played hard and they did tonight; they’ve just got to clean up mistakes.”
The opening goal came in the 20th minute when the Warriors took the ball down the right wing of the Terriers’ defensive third and lofted a pass to the top of the box that was finished off with a laser beam off the left foot of sophomore midfielder Stefano Pesenti for his first goal of the season.
BU applied the pressure early, keeping Merrimack in their defensive third, but the Warriors would slip a through-ball to sophomore forward Tola Showunmi on the counter-attack but Terrier junior goalkeeper Michael Stone would keep Merrimack out of the net at the six minute mark.
The Terriers continued to apply strong offensive pressure in the 10th minute with two corners earned, but the Warriors would clear the first corner and BU senior forward Matt McDonnell put a charge into the ball that sent it sailing far over the net.
Heading into the 14th minute, the BU offense continued to attack the Merrimack net with their fifth corner already of the first half, but McDonnell was turned away by fifth-year graduate goalkeeper Lucas Rezende.
Despite the consistent pressure by the Terriers, the Warriors would strike with the decisive goal through Pesenti. BU nearly doubled Merrimack in shot attempts, but lacked the clinical touch in front of goal was amiss.
Junior back Elias Lampis was fouled hard about 30 yards out from the net in the 26th minute. As he went down he was holding his head, fortunately he was able to leave the field under his own power and return to the game later. Sophomore midfielder Kari Petursson’s ensuing free kick slammed off a defender and was cleared.
The Terriers best offensive chance came in the 33rd minute when junior midfielder sent a cross into the Warrior’s penalty area, but Matt McDonnell’s diving header was blocked by Rezende.
Not one minute later, the Warriors scored another goal as junior forward Filippo Begliardi Ghidini was left unmarked on a corner and made a dash to score a backdoor goal.
Roberts said BU can’t afford to give away goals.
“We made really silly mistakes, we were responsible for at least two of the goals,” Roberts said. “We probably should have done better on the corner kick. The goals were handed to them, which we have been doing.”
Merrimack continued its offensive outburst on a cross into the Terrier box, but a matter of inches kept the score 2-0 as Showunmi’s header slammed off the bottom of the crossbar.
The first half ended with a few more offensive opportunities for the Warriors but the Terrier defense was able to keep the score 2-0.
For a brief second in the 55th minute it looked like Merrimack went up 3-0, but the Warriors were ruled offside. Moments later, the Warriors had a breakaway opportunity but Stone charged forward and stopped a missile at point-blank range to keep BU in the game.
Stone continued to add to his highlight reel on another save one minute later as he made a full-extension diving save to stop a deep shot that was heading directly for the upper right corner of the net.
Rezende then made a highlight save of his own in the 65th minute when he deflected a blast from about 10 yards out from Terrier freshman midfielder Marc Roura.
The Warriors stepped up for a penalty shot in the 68th minute after a handball was called on Lampis and senior captain Mirko Nufi delivered the dagger to the top right corner of the goal over a diving Stone.
A few more scattered offensive chances came and went for BU, including another point-blank chance in the 89th minute but Rezende stood strong again. Rezende’s two saves in the last seven minutes sealed the shutout, and take his saves tally to five for the game.
The Terriers will begin a five-game stretch of road games starting Saturday against the University of Massachusetts Lowell and will return home Oct. 5 against the College of the Holy Cross.
The River Hawks have won the last two matchups against the Terriers with identical 2-0 scorelines. Coach Roberts will be hoping his team sees an upturn in form by the time their first Patriot League game of the season rolls along on September 21st against Lafayette.
Away form was an issue for the Terriers last year too, with a dismal record of 1-5-2. Their first and only away win came against Holy Cross in Worcester.
Roberts said the road trip doesn’t change anything for the Terriers.
“Games are games,” Roberts said. “The facilities we’ll be playing at are good.”