Photo courtesy of Jessica Lam
By Charlie DeMatteo
Boston University men’s soccer (11-3-4, 7-1-1 PL) advanced to the Patriot League Championship after defeating the Colgate Raiders (8-10-2, 4-3-2 PL) 2-0 at home on Nickerson Field on Tuesday night.
Despite struggling to create any chances of note through the first 80 minutes, the Terriers were able to seal the victory and book their place in the final thanks to two goals from graduate midfielder Colin Innes in the final 10 minutes
“It was a good performance to get us into the final,” BU head coach Kevin Nylen said postgame. “I think our guys performed and dealt with [Colgate’s] direct play.”
Through the game’s first 20 minutes, neither team was able to create any scoring chances. Colgate was sitting in a deep defensive block, and the Terriers struggled to make the key pass to unlock the Raider defense.
“They were in a low block, so it was tough to break down,” Innes said. “We talked about how there’s kind of a jam in the middle and we want to look to go outside to get service into the box and to play in from the outside. We looked to do that in the second half.”
One chance fell to the feet of Raider midfielder Cason Stafford who had a golden opportunity 26 minutes into the game, but he blazed his shot from just inside the box well over the bar.
BU responded with a half-chance of their own in the 34th minute after Innes found junior forward Eitan Rosen, but Rosen’s shot from outside the box was easily blocked by a Colgate defender.
Entering the break, each team had mustered just one shot each, and neither looked likely to get a goal in the second half.
“It was a completely low block, so you have to be patient,” Nylen said. “We looked at a couple things, but we didn’t have much service in the first half.”
Three minutes into the second half, star Colgate striker Aidan Davock missed an opportunity as he slid his way into the BU box, but couldn’t keep his shot on target.
In the 52nd minute, BU began to grow into the game as Rosen carved out a dangerous cross from the left flank, but no Terrier was able to receive his pass—a recurring theme of the night.
In a game calling out for quality in the midfield, freshman midfielder Jason Zacarias was able to provide just that when he was subbed on alongside sophomore midfielder John Roman in the 64th minute.
Zacarias made an instant impact, playing cleverly through the Colgate midfield and opening up more space for the likes of Innes and Rosen going forward.
“I felt like there were pockets that we could find that we weren’t finding in the first half,” Zacarias said. “I told myself if I came on, I needed to try and find those pockets and to just be patient and stay ready.”
Nylen was also impressed with the impact made by the freshman in such a big game.
“Jason and John came in and did a phenomenal job,” Nylen said. “Jason found himself on the ball in good pockets.”
In a game desperate for some magic, Innes provided it in the 82nd minute with a powerful effort from outside the box on his weaker left foot. The ball nestled into the bottom of the Colgate net; giving the Terriers a precious 1-0 lead and sending the Nickerson Field crowd into raptures.
“It was an unreal crowd,” Innes said. “I’m thankful I could score tonight, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”
Innes’ goal was the Terriers first shot on target all night—a statistic that painted the picture of a cagey game.
“They were in a low block, so it was always going to be hard, but we found a way to break it down,” Innes said.
Just four minutes later, Innes doubled his tally on the night and the Terrier’s advantage. A surging run from Zacarias set the graduate student up to score his second of the night, as he slotted home once again.
In the way of the Terriers and a championship is Lafayette, the only team to beat BU in the Patriot League this year. They will face off at Nickerson Field on Saturday at 1 p.m.
“We’re not gonna change anything, we’re not going to do anything different. Our group has earned it and they enjoy being together,” Nylen said. “Who doesn’t want to be in a final?”