Soccer Midfielder Michael Bustamante (CGS’10) shows no signs of insecurity.

in Spotlight
September 18th, 2009

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BU Men’s Soccer: Ready for Prime Time
Climbing the rankings, Terriers face Eagles tonight
By Josh Cain (COM’12)

The Green Line rivalry renews tonight.

But this time, the opening venue for the annual crosstown slugfest between the Boston University Terriers and the Boston College Eagles is not Agganis Arena or Conte Forum.

Nickerson Field is the site, men’s soccer teams the opponents. And this one’s going national, to be broadcast live on the Fox Soccer Channel at 8 p.m.

While the Eagles have been known to overshadow the Terriers when it comes to athletics (except hockey, of course), media attention for this game focuses on BU. National preseason polls ranked the Terriers 24th in the country. Courtesy of a few early wins, they now sit at 14. After an upset over top-five-ranked St. John’s University, BU could be looking at a home in the top 10.

For head coach Neil Roberts, in his 25th year running BU soccer, the recognition from experts around the country is nice. But national exposure also means something more concrete: better opportunities to showcase the program and attract strong talent.

“Recruiting has gone well the last couple of years,” says Roberts. “We’ve obviously brought in some pretty good players, some good kids, and we hope to continue that.”

He also notes that the University’s rigorous academic standards dictate that BU coaches find players who are well rounded, who don’t fit into the mold of a big-school collegiate athlete focused only on the sport. That broader perspective is expressed on the field as well. “We’re looking for kids who can fit in our style of play,” he says.

That style, according to Roberts, is more cerebral than physical, one that develops a little more slowly. He attributes the difference directly to the character of his players.

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Midfielder Michael Bustamante (CGS’10) (left) takes on a defender. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

One player who shows no signs of insecurity is Michael Bustamante (CGS’10). A native of Chelsea, Mass., Bustamante displays his athletic prowess at midfield, taking on two defenders at once — and beating them often enough — or making a backwards pass that suggests he has eyes in the back of his head. As a freshman, Bustamante earned AE Midfielder of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors.

“He’s a good athlete, very technical, an extremely good passer,” says Roberts.

“We have so many guys who have the ability to do special things,” he says. “You don’t know who’s going to do it next game. And that’s a good team.”

The Terriers and Eagles take to Nickerson Field tonight, September 18, at 8 p.m. The first 300 BU students to arrive receive a GoTerriers.com LED flashlight. The game will be televised live on Fox Soccer Channel.

And that’s not all for soccer this weekend. The women’s team hosts Harvard on Sunday, September 20, at 5 p.m., also at Nickerson. The game will also be nationally televised on Fox.

Josh Cain can be reached at jcain33@gmail.com.

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