Terrier Tailgate Tomorrow
Men’s soccer kicks off 2011–12 season at home
Calling all Terrier fans. Tomorrow night, the fifth annual Terrier Tailgate officially kicks off the Boston University Athletics 2011–2012 season, followed by the men’s soccer team’s first at-home game. The Terriers face off against perennial Big East power St. John’s University.
When the gates open at Nickerson Field at 6 p.m., fans will be treated to pregame popcorn and cotton candy along with free food samples from Raising Cane’s. They can also play any of several games, including a dunk tank, baseball toss, and cornhole. BU’s legion of hockey fanatics can try their hand at a slap-shot game. The Dear Abbeys, BU’s premier all-male a cappella group, will sing the national anthem, and the BU Band drum line and the Dance Team will entertain the crowd at halftime. Fans will also be in for a treat, as 1980 U.S. Olympic gold medalist and Terrier hockey great Mike Eruzione (SED’77), director of development for athletics, will be on hand to deliver the game ball.
Getting there early is strongly recommended: the first 1,000 through the gates will receive a free BU soccer scarf.
“We are excited to once again welcome students back to campus with the annual Terrier Tailgate, the fifth this year,” says Mike Lynch, an assistant vice president and director of athletics. “Not only is the academic year getting started, but BU Athletics is back in action and looking to build on our winning tradition. After a successful 2010–11 year that included four teams and several individuals advancing to the NCAA postseason, we look forward to continued success for our student-athletes in the classroom, on the playing field, and in the Boston community.”
The main attraction tomorrow night will be the seven-time America East champion men’s soccer team, which will take on St. John’s at 7 p.m. The Terriers hope to recapture the magic of their 2009 contest with St. John’s, when they defeated the Red Storm, 1-0, at Nickerson, earning their first victory over a top-ranked team since 1994.
Returning for his 27th year as head coach is Neil Roberts. “We’re excited about being involved with Terrier Tailgate again this year,” Roberts says. “Our last two events were fantastic experiences, and it’s been great to have the Dean of Students Office involved with promoting this event. Terrier Tailgate is something that the players look forward to because of the energy coming from the crowd.
“Athletes perform because that’s what they do,” he adds. “They want to compete at the highest level they’re capable of, and it’s so much easier when you have fans behind you. Athletes want to put a show on, and this event gives us energy and excitement that hopefully will carry over to the rest of the season.”
Saturday’s home opener is especially exciting for the team’s underclassmen, who have never played at a Terrier Tailgate. “The seniors told us about the history of the event and how there was a great turnout last time,” says Derek McCaffrey (CAS’14). “We’re definitely looking forward to it because we’re hosting one of the top programs in the country. We appreciate having the big-time sports atmosphere that usually accompanies basketball and hockey games.”
Selected to finish first in the America East preseason poll, the Terriers defeated Holy Cross 2-0 in last Friday’s season opener in Worcester. Captain Stephen Knox (COM’12) carried the team to victory, notching two goals to earn America East Player of the Week honors. He and Ben Berube (CAS’12), who was named 2010 America East Fans’ Choice Player of the Year, will lead an offense that was ranked 25th in the nation last year, averaging 1.88 goals per game.
On the defensive end is 2010 America East Defender of the Year Colin Henry (CAS’12), who along with Kelvin Madzongwe (CGS’12), 2010 America East Rookie of the Year, helped the Terriers shut out eight opponents last season.
The Terriers will compete against nonconference opponents UConn Huskies (September 16), the Providence Friars (October 4), and crosstown rival the Boston College Eagles (October 18).
“Since I’ve been here, we’ve always tried to play the best schedule possible,” Roberts says. “We’re fortunate to play very good teams home and away—it says a lot for the program and facilities. Whenever we can host a team like Connecticut, we will do it. The players will be challenged, but that’s what they want.”
Roberts hopes the challenging slate of games will prepare the team for America East competition, among them a UMBC squad that was a penalty shot shy of advancing to the 2010 NCAA tournament third round and a Vermont team that won a home game against Stanford, then ranked 13th.
“America East is one of the most underrated conferences in the country,” Roberts says. “We reached the NCAA second round back in 2008, and UMBC did the same last year. From top to bottom, we will be a solid conference, and every game is going to be tough to win.”
BU Athletics hopes to build on last year’s impressive season. The men’s basketball team won the American East conference for the first time in nine years, and women’s ice hockey ended its remarkable season with a run to the 2011 NCAA Frozen Four title game. On Thanksgiving weekend the Terrier men’s ice hockey team will face Cornell in the third Red Hot Hockey game at Madison Square Garden. As well as men’s soccer, the field hockey and women’s soccer teams were recently selected by America East coaches to win their respective league titles this fall.
Gates at Nickerson Field open tomorrow, Saturday, September 3, at 6 p.m. for the Terrier Tailgate. The men’s soccer game against St. John’s commences at 7 p.m. Students, staff, and faculty, with friends and family, get in free with a BU ID. General admission is $5. BU friends and family are asked to use Gate 1; the general public is asked to use Gate 2.
Scott Ellis can be reached at email@example.com.
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