The Bowling Green State University men's soccer team begins a busy stretch of the schedule this week. The Falcons of head coach Eric Nichols will play three games in a seven-day span, starting with a Wednesday (Oct. 10) match against The Ohio State University. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
Following the OSU match, the Brown and Orange will return home to do battle with the University at Buffalo in a Saturday night (Oct. 13) matchup. That Mid-American Conference game is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. at Cochrane Field.
Admission for the Buffalo match, and for all Falcon men's and women's home regular-season action again this season, is free. Additionally, admission for Wednesday's game in Columbus is free as well.
Live stats for both of this week's matches will be available, also free of charge, at BGSUFalcons.com. There will be video streaming of Wednesday's OSU contest, but a subscription fee is required.
The Falcons' last match was on Friday night (Oct. 5), a 2-1 win over Western Michigan at Cochrane Field. For the second-straight home game, sophomore Danny Baraldi had three points on a goal and an assist. Baraldi scored the first goal of the match, and had an assist on junior Anthony Grant's winner. Senior Zach Lemke had the primary assist on Grant's goal, which came with just over 14 minutes left in the second half. Junior Michael Wiest made six saves to earn the win in goal.
After the win over WMU, the Falcons are 4-5-2 overall and 1-2-0 in MAC action. BGSU's two league matches prior to the Western game both resulted in 2-0 losses, to then-#7/10 Akron at home (Sept. 22) and against Hartwick on the road (Sept. 28). In between the UA and HC matches, BGSU picked up a 2-1 win over Milwaukee in double overtime at Cochrane on Sept. 25.
BGSU is 3-3-1 at home, 1-1-1 on the road and 0-1-0 in neutral-site matches this year to date. Individually, Baraldi leads the Falcons in scoring, with team-best totals of five goals and 12 points. Grant now has eight points on three goals and a pair of assists, while Lemke and freshman Ryan James each have four points, with a goal and two assists apiece.
Three different BGSU players have two points apiece. That list includes juniors Brandon Silva and Ryan Comiskey, each of whom have one goal, and senior Chris McLean, who has recorded a pair of assists. Junior Ryan Snashall and sophomore Vlad Lekarev each have one assist.
Lemke paces the Falcons with totals of 29 shot attempts and 12 shots on goal. Baraldi and Grant have fired 24 and 19 shots, respectively.
In goal, Wiest has played all 1042-plus minutes. He has 58 saves, a goals-against average of 1.21 and three shutouts. The junior has a save percentage of .806 this year to date.
In front of Wiest, junior Sean Sikich has played every second of every match at a center-back position. Silva has played 1034 of the nearly 1043 minutes this fall, while freshman defender Jake Genrich has been on the pitch for 1020 minutes and Baraldi 1004. Baraldi, Genrich, Sikich, Silva and Wiest are the only players to have started all 11 matches for the Falcons this year to date.
Baraldi's three-point game vs. WMU included both the 10th goal and 10th assist of his BGSU career. With five goals this season, he has equalled his team-leading total for all of last year. Baraldi now has 30 career points in 29 games at a Falcon.
Ohio State enters the week with an overall record of 4-7-1, and the Buckeyes are 0-3-0 in Big Ten Conference play after a 2-1 home loss to Michigan State on Sunday (Oct. 7). OSU is 3-3-1 at home this season to date, with the wins coming over Davidson, DePaul and Butler. The Buckeyes also have a road win over San Diego State.
OSU has a total of 17 goals this fall, with 10 different players having scored at least once. Austin McAnena leads the way with nine points on a team-high three goals and three assists. Both Alex Ivanov and Alex Wimmer each have seen time in goal. Ivanov has a 1.73 GAA and 38 saves in 676 minutes of work, while Wimmer has 24 stops and a 2.20 GAA in 450 minutes between the posts. Head coach John Bluem welcomed back nine starters from last year's team that went 10-7-2 overall and 4-2-0 in the Big Ten.
Nichols returns to his alma mater on Wednesday night, as the BGSU head coach is a 2000 graduate of OSU. Nichols played soccer for the Buckeyes under coach Gary Avedikian, and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science.
There is one other BGSU-OSU connection, as Buckeye defender Alex Bechtol played for the Falcons last season. Bechtol played every minute of the Falcons' first 17 games last fall – including BGSU's match at Ohio State – before missing the final contest of 2011 due to injury.
The Falcons and Buckeyes have two common opponents, and those games produced nearly identical results. Both teams lost a 2-1 decision at home against Michigan State, and both BGSU and OSU earned a tie against nationally-ranked Coastal Carolina. The Buckeyes played the Chanticleers to a 1-1 draw in Columbus, while the Falcons battled Coastal to a 3-3 decision on the road.
The Falcons lead Ohio State, 24-13-2, in the all-time series between the teams, but the Buckeyes have captured each of the last four matches. OSU has posted 1-0 wins in each of the last three matchups, including an overtime decision in last year's game in Columbus. BGSU is all even at 9-9-2 in road games against the Buckeyes, but OSU has a five-game winning streak and a six-match unbeaten streak vs. the Falcons in the state capital. BGSU's last road win in the series came in 1995.
Buffalo has an overall mark of 2-9-1, and the Bulls are 0-2-0 in the MAC heading into Saturday's match at BGSU. UB dropped a pair of road decisions to open conference play, falling by a 4-0 score at Akron (Sept. 29) and a 2-0 verdict against West Virginia on Sunday. The Bulls' wins have come at home against Saint Bonaventure and Albany, both by 2-1 scores.
Individually, Richard Craven has seven points on three goals and an assist, while Maksym Kowal is tied with Craven for the team lead in goals. Kowal has six points on the year, and has both of UB's game-winning goals to date. Jonathan Viscosi has played in 11 of the team's 12 matches in goal, and has 48 saves and a 2.23 GAA. Coach David Hesch has 15 letterwinners, including nine starters, back from last year's club. The 2011 Bulls went 8-8-2 and finished third in the MAC with a 3-2-1 league ledger.
The Falcons lead Buffalo, 9-7-0, in that series, but the Bulls posted the most lopsided victory of the 16-game series last year. The 2011 meeting saw UB explode for five second-half goals in a 5-0 win over the Brown and Orange (Oct. 9, 2011). Joey Merlo had two goals, while Viscosi made four saves in the shutout win. The teams' last meeting at Cochrane Field saw the Falcons score early in each half en route to a 2-0 win two years ago (Oct. 9, 2010). In that match, Zach Lemke headed home a cross less than five minutes into the match for what proved to be the game-winning goal. The Falcons are 3-4-0 in home games, 5-3-0 in road contests and 1-0-0 in neutral-site meetings against UB. The Bulls have scored 25 goals to the Falcons' 24 in the series. Seven of the 16 meetings have required overtime.
Following the UB match, the Falcons will hit the road for the next four matches, beginning with a contest against IPFW on Tuesday (Oct. 16). BGSU's road odyssey will see the team take on Northern Illinois (Oct. 20), Michigan (Oct. 23) and Florida Atlantic (Oct. 26), before the Falcons return home for two matches to end the regular season. Those two home matches will see Wright State (Oct. 30) and West Virginia (Nov. 3) come to Cochrane Field.