BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – The Bowling Green State University men's soccer team continues preparations for the 2012 season, and the Falcons of head coach Eric Nichols will see how they stack up against another program this weekend. The Falcons will head to Rochester, Mich., for the team's lone exhibition, a Friday (Aug. 17) matchup against Oakland University. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at the OU Soccer Field, and admission is free.
Nichols and assistants Charlie Edwards, Paul Habrecht and Greg Hennelly welcome back 13 letterwinners, including six starters, from last year's club.
The list of returnees includes three seniors, including fifth-year Falcon Zach Lemke and fourth-year seniors Joey D'Agostino and Chris McLean. Redshirt junior Brandon Silva joins D'Agostino and Lemke as tri-captains of the 2012 Falcons.
Lemke was one of just three Falcons to start all 18 matches a year ago, and all three of those players return. Junior Zach Schewee and sophomore Danny Baraldi each were in the starting 11 for every match last fall.
Baraldi was the Falcons' leading scorer with 18 points, including a BG-best eight assists on the year. He was involved in the scoring of 13 of the team's 22 goals a season ago, and was named to the All-Ohio Team in his first year on campus. He led all NCAA Division-I freshmen in assists and assists per game (0.44) in 2011.
Lemke and Silva tied for fourth on the team, and second among returning players, with seven points apiece a year ago. Silva had three goals and an assist, while Lemke had a pair of goals and was second on the team with three helpers. Both players got it done in the classroom as well, as each made the Academic All-Ohio Team, while Silva and goalkeeper Michael Wiest earned Academic All-MAC honors.
Wiest, a junior, started 13 matches last season, and had six complete-match shutouts and a goals-against average of just 1.08. In front of Wiest, Schewee is the lone returning starter on the back line. Schewee, who has started all 36 matches since coming to BGSU, returns to his hometown of Rochester, Mich., on Friday.
Junior Ryan Snashall made 14 starts last season and scored four points, while classmate Ryan Comiskey had six points and led the team in points per minute in 2011. D'Agostino, juniors Matt Griesinger and Sean Sikich and sophomore Jon Kumher each started between four and six matches last fall.
The 2012 roster includes 11 newcomers, with three transfers among that group. Two of those transfers, junior Anthony Grant (McKendree [Ill.] Univ.) and sophomore Vlad Lekarev (Butler Univ.), enrolled at BGSU prior to the Spring 2012 semester and participated in spring practices with the Falcons.
Oakland, like BGSU, welcomed back six starters among 13 letterwinners from a year ago. The 2011 Golden Grizzlies finished with a 6-12-1 overall record and a Summit League mark of 3-3-1. Head coach Eric Pogue's club blanked Valparaiso by a 2-0 final in a Monday (Aug. 13) exhibition at the OU Soccer Field.
Following Friday's scrimmage, the Falcons will prepare for the regular-season opener the following weekend. The Brown and Orange will face Saint Bonaventure, coached by former BGSU bench boss Mel Mahler, on Saturday, Aug. 25, with that match starting at 7:00 p.m. at Cochrane Field. A season-opening three-match homestand continues on Wednesday, Aug. 29, when Michigan State comes to town. All 10 of BGSU's 2012 home matches will be played under the lights.