Men’s Soccer: Terriers start off Patriot League campaign with home win over Lehigh

By Charlie DeMatteo

Boston University men’s soccer (4-2, 1-0 PL) defeated Lehigh University (0-4-2, 0-1 PL) 2-0 at home on Saturday night at Nickerson Field to start their Patriot League season off on the right foot.

After dominating much of the ball, the Terriers scored late in the first half to go into the break up 1-0, before capping the night off with a second goal in the game’s final seconds to take home the three points.

“It’s nice to start Patriot League play at home and that we were able to find a result,” BU Head Coach Kevin Nylen said postgame. “I’m really happy to find a result for the guys, but I felt that at times we could have been a little bit better tonight.”

The Terriers dominated much of the possession in the first half, but were unable to create many clear-cut chances. A half-chance came 11 minutes in, however, when graduate midfielder Quinn Matulis had his effort inside the box blocked after a tremendous sliding effort from Lehigh midfielder Hassane Diakho.

While the Terriers controlled possession, Lehigh were happy to soak up the pressure and hit BU on the counterattack. Lehigh forward Thomas Robertson created a chance for himself on the breakaway in the 24th minute, but his right-footed shot did not harm senior goalkeeper Francesco Montali in the BU net.

“They never really broke us down through the run of play tonight,” Nylen said. “Everything was through direct play and that’s something we’ve dealt with before and going to have to continue to deal with.”

A breakthrough then came at the perfect time for the Terriers. After a great piece of individual play by sophomore midfielder John Roman, sophomore forward Alex Bonnington was able to poke a finish home into the Lehigh net to give BU the 1-0 lead in the 44th minute.

“That was a really good individual play by [Roman],” Nylen said. “[Bonnington] is pretty good in the box in terms of his runs.”

The Terriers took a 1-0 advantage into halftime.

It was more of the same in the second half for BU, with chances coming for junior midfielder Eitan Rosen and freshman midfielder Jason Zacarias in quick succession.

After an efficient bit of play from the Terriers, Rosen found himself unmarked bearing down on goal, but he just couldn’t keep his effort down as it sailed over the top right corner.

Zacarias, who continues to influence games at a high level despite being a freshman, danced his way past the Lehigh defense in the 80th minute before being denied by Lehigh goalkeeper Blake Koski.

As the game progressed, Lehigh became increasingly frustrated and the game became more physical as a result.

“We have to at times be able to match the physicality of our opponent,” Nylen said. “But, I hope that our soccer takes precedence.”

Senior forward Aiden Bone made an impression off the bench when he broke away from the Lehigh defense in the 89th minute to set up Rosen for a tap-in and finish the game off for the Terriers.

BU will travel down Commonwealth Avenue next on Tuesday night for a cross-city rivalry against Boston College, with kickoff in Newton set for 7 p.m.