Men’s Soccer: Terriers leap into first place with 3-1 comeback victory over Loyola Maryland

By Charlie DeMatteo

In a crucial Patriot League matchup with postseason ramifications, Boston University men’s soccer (9-3-4, 6-1-1 PL) defeated the Loyola Maryland Greyhounds (6-2-8, 5-1-2, PL) 3-1 on Senior Day on Saturday afternoon in Boston at Nickerson Field.

Last time these two teams played, the Greyhounds handed the Terriers their first Patriot League loss of the season. On Saturday, however, the Terriers were able to get one over on their rivals and move into first place in the Patriot league standings, securing a first round bye in the Patriot League Tournament.

“It means everything [to win on senior day] and in terms of a pretty pivotal game for the two of us with the standings,” BU Head Coach Kevin Nylen said postgame. “It also means that we can honor the seniors, not only as we did with the ceremony, but with a special celebration, so I’m sure proud of the guys and their commitment.”

Despite being dominated in the first half, the Greyhounds had the game’s first big chance through senior defender Thomas Gray. Loyola broke on the counter-attack with pace and Gray found himself clear inside the box, but couldn’t keep his curling effort on net.

From there, it was all BU.

First, senior midfielder Quinn Matulis had his effort blocked by a slide tackle in the 17th minute. Then, on the following corner kick, Quin DeLaMater had his header trickle wide following the delivery from Matulis.

As the game went on, the physicality levels increased. Challenges began flying in from all angles in the 20th minute, but senior midfielder Colin Innes was able to bring it away for the Terriers. Innes almost connected with sophomore forward Alex Bonnington, but the Duke transfer couldn’t control the pass as he was through on goal.

“I don’t look too much into [the physicality of the game],” Nylen said. “I think that’s two good soccer teams giving everything they have.”

Four minutes later, senior defender Ryan Lee made an explosive run through the midfield and let a shot rip which was parried by Greyhound goalie Dylan Van der Walt. Lee’s effort found its way in front of junior forward Eitan Rosen who had a golden opportunity to give BU the lead, but Rosen couldn’t direct his header on target.

Then in the 31st minute, Lee made another bursting run and won a free kick this time. Matulis whipped one in and it was headed away by the Loyola defense, only as far as Rosen though. Rosen then smashed one with his weaker left foot but saw it whiz wide. 

“I thought in the first half we created chances, we just didn’t find the back of the net,” Nylen said.

At the interval, BU led Loyola in shots 10-2. 

“We told the guys to continue to push on,” Nylen said.

The Terriers came out flat to start the second half though, as the Greyhounds carved out an early chance through Gray in the 47th minute.

That would come as a warning sign as just six minutes later in the 53rd minute, freshman defender Brandon Meminger had a long distance effort take a huge deflection and loop into the Terrier net past senior goalkeeper Francesco Montali to put Loyola up 1-0.

“Obviously to concede early on in the second half off the deflection made it difficult,” Nylen said. 

The Terriers continued to plug away despite now being down a goal. In the 66th minute, a huge chance fell to Rosen once again whose shot from just inside the box rocketed off the crossbar.

BU continued to pile on the pressure and they eventually won a corner kick in the 73rd minute—their first of the game. Innes floated in a perfectly weighted cross which found the head of senior defender Griffin Roach who leapt highest and nodded BU back on level terms.

“Griffin deserves way more goals than he has,” Innes said. “He holds it down back there every game so it’s awesome to see him get up there and get a goal, especially on Senior Day.”

BU wasn’t done there though. With momentum now on their side, Rosen made a quick turn just outside the box and won a free kick from 25 yards out in the 77th minute. Up stepped Innes who channeled his inner David Beckham and launched a beauty of a strike into the top right corner to give BU the lead.

“I mean that was awesome, I’m not usually a free kick taker so it felt good,” Innes said. “I know everybody’s watching the David Beckham documentary so that’s what they want to compare it to, but I still play in the Patriot League and he did it at the World Cup, so there’s a long way to go before I’m on his status.”

With a nice crowd on hand due to Senior Day, Nickerson Field was as loud as it had been all season.

“[Loyola] is a good side and they don’t give away many goals,” Nylen said. “For our guys to continue to push for 90 minutes is what this group is about.”

For just the second time all year, Loyola had conceded two goals in a game, a testament to the BU offense.

Then Rosen, who had done everything but score, joined in on the fun in the 86th minute. Rosen picked up the ball on the left flank and made a trademark cut onto his stronger right foot to bend his shot past Van der Walt in net to make it 3-1 BU.

Rosen had some choice words for the Loyola defenders, but all they could do was pick the ball out of their own net for the third time in less than 14 minutes.

Loyola had an opportunity to get within one in the 87th minute after BU committed a foul in the penalty box, but they couldn’t convert. Montali dove to his left and managed to divert junior defender Jordy Luchies’ effort onto the post and wide.

In a game that seemingly had everything, BU secured a crucial three points in the Patriot League standings and ensured at the very least, they would host a home playoff game.

“I think it has gotten tougher and tougher to win here for the other teams,” Innes said. “I think we just keep getting more used to the conditions and I think it’s a big advantage hosting the semi-finals.”

The Terriers’ regular season finale comes on Wednesday when they travel to West Point, N.Y. to take on Army at 6 p.m.