By Eoghan Kelly, News Staff
The men’s soccer team knew last night’s NCAA tournament matchup with Boston College would be a historic game – but they didn’t know it was going to be quite so memorable.
Junior forward Dante Marini scored his first goal of the season in the 14th minute, leading the Huskies to a 1-0 win over the Eagles for their first regulation win in NCAA tournament history and first-ever win against their crosstown rivals.
With the victory, the Huskies also set program records for wins (14) and shutouts (10) in a season.
“It was a massive win for us,” head coach Brian Ainscough said after the game. “You always want to make your season go a little bit further, so having the first opportunity to do that and then happen to be an [Atlantic Coast Conference] team as good as Boston College, it’s pretty gratifying for my players, staff and probably everybody at Northeastern.”
The Huskies (14-2-4) and Eagles (8-6-5) treated 1,204 fans at to a defensive battle in the first national tournament game ever played at Parsons Field. Despite combining for 16 shots on goal, the Huskies created few offensive opportunities and effectively shut down BC’s offensive trio of senior forward Charlie Rugg, senior midfielder Kyle Bekker and freshman midfielder Derrick Boateng.
Northeastern struck early in the first half when junior midfielder Nikko Lara hurled a flip throw into the box from the right sideline. Senior forward Don Anding flicked the ball to the back post, and Marini, left unmarked, snuck in alone and headed a shot past senior goalkeeper Justin Luthy.
Marini said his first goal of the season couldn’t have come on a bigger stage.
“That’s actually my first header goal I think since ever, since I was playing U-9,” Marini said. “It’s pretty awesome. I haven’t scored at all this year and all the boys are telling me, ‘Oh, don’t worry, it’s gonna come at an important time.’ This is the best time to get it, just for the team, for the season – it feels pretty good.”
The Eagles struggled to get balls into the Northeastern penalty box in the first half and settled for shots from 20 or more yards out, making senior goalkeeper Oliver Blum’s life easy. But BC increased its offensive pressure in the second half and forced Blum to make six saves.
The Eagles’ best chance came in the 82nd minute when senior defender Stefan Carter was left alone on the back post following a free kick, but Blum stoned him on his take from inside the six-yard box.
“I was very happy with the way we played,” BC head coach Ed Kelly said. “I thought we did enough to win the game, and I’m sure Brian [Ainscough] and his kids feel the same way, that they scored a goal and they defended well, so they did enough to win it under those circumstances.”
Northeastern advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history to take on the fourth-seeded University of Connecticut (15-3-1) in Storrs, Conn., on Sunday at 1 p.m.