BU Today

Sports

Men’s soccer aims to regain 1990s glory

Terriers begin season with last-second double-overtime win at Boston College

Petur Siguurdsson celebrates after scoring the tying goal against UMass on August 27. Photo by Rob Klein

What a time for BU men’s soccer forward Steven Gahl to score his first goal of the season. With seconds ticking down in the second overtime of the Terriers’ season opener at Boston College on August 25, the senior launched a 40-yard strike that found the top right corner of the net, giving BU its first victory over the Eagles in eight years.

“We were creating pressure up in their half of the field, and they were trying to clear the ball with about 10 seconds left,” says coach Neil Roberts. Then Gahl (CAS’07) had the ball, and it was all up to him: with three seconds remaining, a big boot was his only option. “He hit the heck out of it,” says Roberts.

The 2-1 victory, combined with a 1-1 double-overtime tie with UMass two days later —and an undefeated spring exhibition season — gives the Terriers additional confidence that they can live up to their second-place billing in the America East preseason coaches’ poll. With 53 points — just shy of Vermont’s 54 — BU has earned the respect of the prognosticators despite the fact that the team is coming off a sixth-place conference finish and has lost more than half its starters.

Last fall’s results were a bitter disappointment for the Terriers and their coach, who had 20 straight winning seasons under his belt. Furthermore, BU had advanced to the second round of the 2004 NCAA tournament, so following up that success with a 6-8-4 record in 2005, a season that saw BU plagued with injuries and tough, close losses, was particularly disheartening. “We were in every game, but we couldn’t find ways to win,” Roberts says. The Terriers were eliminated in penalty kicks by Binghamton after two overtime sessions in the America East quarterfinal last year.

But now the ball seems to be bouncing the Terriers’ way. “It’s a young team with a lot of new faces — a work in progress,” he says. “We’re trying to find ourselves, but we’re working together and we’ve got a lot of depth.”

Roberts likes what he sees in the returning players as well, especially Gahl and Petur Sigurdsson (CGS’07), who scored the tying goal against BC with just 2:27 remaining in regulation and put BU’s only goal in net in the UMass contest. Gahl “has been outstanding, and Petur played well around the goal the whole weekend,” says the coach. “It was especially exciting to beat BC, because we hadn’t in a while, and they’ve got Charlie Davies, one of the best strikers in the nation.”

BU’s recruiting class isn’t all that young, considering the fact that the 10-member group includes 4 transfers. Two of them, Moshe Shalchon (GSM’08) and Greg Brinkman (ENG’07), came from the Big East, DePaul and UConn, respectively. And if one of BU’s new faces resembles an old face, it’s because midfielder Richy Dorman (CGS’08) is the younger brother of former BU All-American Andy Dorman (CAS’03), who plays for Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution. “I can remember Richy when he was 12 or 13 seeing his brother play, and now he’s here and he’s playing a bit more in every game,” Roberts says.

Terrier fans are eager to see another trip to the NCAA tournament, a feat the team accomplished for five straight seasons in the 1990s, from 1993 to 1997. After a seven-year absence, BU finally got another invitation to the dance, in 2004. It’s too early in the season to tell if the Terriers will be back, but they’re showing flashes of brilliance. A final-seconds comeback victory against BC is a good start. “I like the position we’re in right now,” says Roberts.