BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – The Bowling Green State University men's soccer team, after posting an important home win over the weekend, now takes to the road. The Falcons of head coach Eric Nichols begin a season-long, four-match road swing with a Tuesday (Oct. 16) match against IPFW. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. at the Hefner Soccer Complex in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Following the IPFW match, the Brown and Orange will head to the MAC's "West Coast" for a Saturday (Oct. 20) matchup with Northern Illinois University. That Mid-American Conference game is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. locally (2:00 p.m. ET) at the NIU Soccer and Track & Field Complex in DeKalb, Ill.
Live stats for both of this week's matches will be available, free of charge, at www.gomastodons.com and www.NIUHuskies.com. Additionally, there will be video streaming of Saturday's NIU contest, but a subscription fee is required. Links to the live stats & streaming are available at BGSUFalcons.com.
The Falcons split a pair of matches last week, dropping a 2-0 decision at Ohio State on Wednesday (Oct. 10), but bouncing back with a 3-0 victory over Buffalo in MAC action Saturday night (Oct. 13) at Cochrane Field. Junior goalkeeper Michael Wiest made five saves, including several spectacular stops, in the OSU match, but the Buckeyes got a goal in the 27th minute and an insurance tally with just over 10 minutes left in the match.
On Saturday, junior Anthony Grant scored two goals, and classmate Ryan Comiskey also found the back of the net, as BG posted a three-goal win over UB. Grant's two-goal game was his first as a Falcon. He had eight multiple-goal matches last season at McKendree (Ill.) University, scoring 23 goals in 2011. Wiest made four saves against the Bulls, earning his fourth shutout of the season.
The Falcons obliterated their previous season-high totals with 28 shots and 14 shots on goal in the UB match. Prior to Saturday night, BG's season bests had been 16 total shots (at Hartwick) and six shots on goal (vs. both Cleveland State and Akron).
Grant now has three game-winning goals this fall. His total is the highest by a BG player since Chuko Evwaraye scored three winners in the 2007 season. No Falcon player has had more than three GWG since Bobby Biggs had six in 1997.
Sophomore Danny Baraldi and junior Ryan Snashall each had two assists for the Falcons in the Buffalo match, while fifth-year senior Zach Lemke and redshirt junior Brandon Silva each added an assist.
The Falcons are 5-6-2 overall and 2-2-0 in MAC action. BGSU has MAC wins over UB and Western Michigan, and the Falcons' conference losses have come to Akron at home (Sept. 22) and Hartwick. BG is 4-3-1 at home, 1-2-1 on the road and 0-1-0 in neutral-site matches this year to date.
Individually, Baraldi leads the Falcons in scoring, with 14 points. He is tied for the team lead in goals, with five, and paces the Brown and Orange with four assists. Baraldi now has 32 career points in 31 games as a Falcon. He will miss the IPFW match, however, as a result of picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in the Buffalo game.
Grant now has 12 points on the year, and is tied with Baraldi for the team lead in goals, with five. Grant (three) and Baraldi (two) have combined for all five of the Falcons' game-winning goals this fall to date.
Lemke has five points on the year, with a goal and three assists, while Comiskey and freshman Ryan James each have four points this season. Silva and Snashall have three points apiece this fall to date.
In goal, Wiest has played all 1222-plus minutes. He has 67 saves, a goals-against average of 1.18 and four shutouts. The junior has a save percentage of .807 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 1214 of the nearly 1223 minutes this fall, while freshman defender Jake Genrich has been on the pitch for 1200 minutes and Baraldi 1157. Baraldi, Genrich, Sikich, Silva and Wiest are the only players to have started all 13 matches for the Falcons this year to date.
IPFW enters the week with an overall record of 1-12-1, and the Mastodons are 1-2-1 in Summit League play. IPFW lost 11 consecutive matches to begin the season, but the 'Dons are 1-1-1 over the last three contests. IPFW earned a 1-1 draw at Western Illinois on Oct. 6, and after a 2-0 loss at Northern Kentucky on Tuesday (Oct. 9), the 'Dons posted a 1-0 win over Omaha in Fort Wayne Saturday night (Oct. 13).
Corey Tom has a team-leading three goals, and he also paces IPFW with six points on the year. Jose Rodriguez and Jackson Tooke have five points apiece. Rodriguez has two goals, while Tooke leads the 'Dons with three assists. In goal, Brandon Cloutier has 73 saves and a goals-against average of 2.36. On Monday afternoon (Oct. 15), he was named the Summit League's Defensive Player of the Week. Head coach Mike Harper welcomed back 13 letterwinners, including six starters, from last year's team that went 8-10-2 overall and 3-2-1 in the Summit League.
The Falcons lead IPFW, 6-3-2, in the all-time series between the teams, and BGSU is unbeaten in the last five meetings. Tuesday's game will mark the 11th consecutive year that the schools have played. The Falcons are 3-2-2 at home and 3-1-0 on the road against the Mastodons. Last season, the Falcons scored three first-half goals en route to a 3-0 win over IPFW at Cochrane Field (Aug. 31, 2011). Lemke and Comiskey were among the BGSU goal-scorers, while Wiest had three saves to earn the shutout. In the last meeting in Fort Wayne, the Falcons posted a 2-1 overtime win two years ago (Oct. 6, 2010). The 'Dons were a MAC affiliate member for men's soccer in the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
Northern Illinois has an overall mark of 3-7-2, and the Huskies are 2-1-0 in the MAC. NIU plays a Wednesday (Oct. 17) match at Valparaiso prior to hosting the Falcons this weekend. The Huskies won back-to-back matches against Florida Atlantic (2-0, Sept. 30) and Hartwick (1-0, Oct. 6), but dropped a pair of games last week, losing to Marquette, 1-0, on Wednesday (Oct. 9) and Akron, 2-0, on Saturday (Oct. 13). Four of the Huskies' seven losses have come to teams that were ranked in the top-five in the nation at game time.
Gael Rivera and James Stevenson lead the team with eight points apiece. Rivera has a team-high four goals, while Stevenson has three goals and a pair of assists, tying him for the NIU lead in the latter category. In goal, Jordan Godsey has played every second of every match this fall, and has 51 saves, four shutouts and a GAA of just 1.25. Coach Eric Luzzi has 14 letterwinners, including eight starters, back from last year's club. The 2011 Huskies went 15-6-0 and finished second on the MAC with a 4-2-0 league ledger. Northern won last year's MAC Tournament title and advanced to the NCAA Championships.
The Falcons trail NIU, 16-8-0, in that series, and BG will be looking to snap a six-match losing streak to the Huskies. Last year, Northern picked up a 3-0 win at Cochrane Field, in only the second home night game in BGSU men's soccer program history (Oct. 29, 2011). Two seasons ago (Oct. 30, 2010), in the teams' last meeting in DeKalb, the Huskies scored with just 4:23 left in the second half for a 1-0 win. The Falcons' last win over NIU came five years ago at Cochrane Field (Nov. 2, 2007), as the Brown and Orange scored twice within the first five-plus minutes en route to a 3-1 win. BGSU is 6-6-0 in home games, 1-9-0 in road contests and 1-1-0 in neutral-site meetings against the Huskies. The Falcons' lone series road win came in 2002.
Following this week's two matches, the road swing continues with contests at Michigan (Oct. 23) and Florida Atlantic (Oct. 26). Then, the Falcons will return home for two matches to end the regular season, as Wright State (Oct. 30) and West Virginia (Nov. 3) come to Cochrane Field. Each of the Falcons' last four games of the regular season is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m.