Boston Terriers extend AU men’s soccer winless streak to four
In their first Patriot League home matchup of 2015, AU falls to Boston 1-0.
On a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon at Reeves Field, the AU men’s soccer team proved unable to win their first Patriot League match of the 2015 season and, to the disappointment of a crowd of largely AU supporters, snap its three-game winless streak.
AU’s first Patriot League home matchup this season brought calls of protest against the referee from both players and fans, foul trouble for the Terriers and frantic play from the Eagles in the final minutes. In spite of AU’s numerous offensive efforts, BU delivered a decisive 1-0 conference loss to the Eagles.
From the first whistle, AU and BU embraced opposite playing styles but fought with equal force. The Eagles consistently put pressure on BU by moving the ball efficiently and swiftly, which helped create several scoring opportunities. BU separated themselves from the Eagles by playing with far more physicality. Several defenders on the Terriers drew criticism from the crowd for holding onto AU players during the game, preventing them from moving the ball.
AU junior forward Joe Iraola made several good runs toward goal in the opening minutes, and junior midfielder Dale Ludwig recorded the team’s first shot on goal in the third minute.
But it was the Terriers who notched the first goal of the game. BU junior forward Felix De Bona sent the ball into the net nearly four minutes into the game off a cross from freshman midfielder Adam Wright. Right after De Bona scored, AU senior goalkeeper Dylan Hobert expressed his frustration by firing the ball high in the air.
The weather slowed the speed of the game and forced the players to move across a slippery field, but even the wet conditions could not hinder the spirit of the crowd of 248 people. In the first half, both AU and BU players slipped on the grass while battling for 50/50 balls and struggled to control crosses. The rain also made it difficult for both AU and BU to send accurate passes into the penalty box.
BU contained American’s offense in the early minutes, but Iraola still slipped several passes past the grasp of the Terriers for his attempts on goal. AU moved relentlessly towards the Terrier net, but they never converted.
AU sophomore forward Joel Hart shot the ball inches wide of the net in the 15th minute for an attempt, and four minutes later, a BU defender blocked an effort from junior midfielder Panos Nakhid.
The momentum fluctuated back and forth throughout the first half, despite BU’s early goal. Although AU repeatedly moved the ball past BU defenders, the Terriers maintained their lead.
The second half saw AU applying greater pressure on BU junior goalkeeper Matt Gilbert. Hart cut through the Terrier's' defense in the 55th minute, forced Gilbert out of the box and made a shot on goal.
Gilbert faced the task of defending against senior midfielder Liam Robley's accurate set pieces throughout the day, but fought off each attack. In the 82nd minute, Gilbert made a soaring save on a Robley free kick, knocking the ball over the crossbar. Gilbert ended the game with eight saves, his fourth shutout of the season and his first shutout on the road.
With three minutes remaining in the game, AU began an elusive search for goal. With 21.9 seconds remaining, the Eagles had a chance to earn a draw with one last Robley set piece. The crowd on the bleachers stood on their feet in anticipation of a potential last-second equalizer. However, AU failed to convert on the free kick in the dwindling seconds of the match.
Although BU secured the win, AU attempted 16 more total shots than BU and had more than double the amount of shots on goal that its competitors (8-3). But, it only took one golden opportunity for BU to take the lead, and it’s strong defense helped the team hold on for the victory.
With this loss at home, AU falls to a 6-4-1 record after a five-game unbeaten streak to start the season. The Eagles also drop further in the Patriot League standings with a second loss in two PL matchups this season.
AU men's soccer will play their next game Oct. 7 at Loyola Maryland before returning home next Saturday for a matchup with Lafayette. Both opponents are Patriot League competitors, and both games are must-wins for the Eagles to ensure their contention for the PL playoffs.