DAVIDSON, N.C. –The Bowling Green State University men's soccer team scored a goal in each half Saturday night (Oct. 19), posting a 2-0 road win over Davidson College. The non-conference match was held at Alumni Stadium.
With the victory, the Falcons improve to 4-6-4 on the season, while dropping the host Wildcats to 6-7-1.
Freshman Joe Sullivan gave the Brown and Orange the lead with just six minutes gone, and junior Danny Baraldi, after coming close to scoring multiple times in the match, doubled the Falcons' advantage late in the contest.
Senior Michael Wiest made eight saves as he and the BGSU defense posted the team's sixth shutout of the season.
At the offensive end, the Falcons scored two goals in a game for the first time since the 2013 season opener, a 5-0 win over Malone on Aug. 30.
"Obviously, I'm pleased with this result, and I'm pleased for the guys for getting a result on the road against a good opponent in Davidson," said BGSU head coach Eric Nichols.
On Saturday night, the Brown and Orange wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, taking the lead with just 5:58 gone, on the first shot of the match. The play began when senior Sean Sikich put a long ball over the defense to junior Vlad Lekarev. Lekarev, heading down the left side of the field, settled the ball just before reaching the end line, then played a cross toward the far post.
Sullivan swooped in from the right side, met the ball with a perfectly-timed leaping header, and hit a bullet into the far-side netting. It was BG's earliest goal in a match this season.
"The bottom line is that goals change games," said Nichols. "We wanted to get an early goal, and we pushed on and got a great one. It was a great buildup, a great cross by Vlad and a great header by Joe Sullivan."
Wiest made a pair of saves over the next few minutes, stopping shots by Shane Macnamara and Chris Pettiglio, and Lekarev hit a hard shot just wide as the match reached the 15-minute mark.
Moments later, sophomore Ryan James collected the ball at the top of the box and hit a turnaround shot. That effort was blocked over the line for a corner kick. Off of that kick, the ball was blocked out of the box to senior Zach Schewee, who made a long roundabout run that eventually took him into the penalty area on the left side. He put a shot toward the far post, but Davidson goalie Andrew Kenneson made a diving stop.
As the match neared the 20-minute mark, Baraldi's pass found James in the box. James put his shot just wide of the net.
Midway through the period, the Wildcats' had arguably their best chance of the match. Pettiglio, who had five shot attempts on the night, fired a long, bouncing shot. Wiest parried that effort, then gobbled up the rebound before DC's Valeriy Sviderskiy could reach it.
Less than two minutes later, Wiest made another save, grabbing a Jake Keator blast that may have been deflected before it reached the goalmouth.
As the match neared the half-hour mark, the Falcons were buzzing again. First, Kenneson barely beat Lekarev to a ball after James had played Lekarev through. A defender cut in front of the BG junior, giving the DC 'keeper just enough time to pounce on the through ball. Then, after a scramble in the box, Baraldi saw a shot sail high.
Wiest stopped another Pettiglio shot through traffic, and Schewee made a nifty cutback move and fired toward the far post, forcing Kenneson into a diving stop.
With only 20 seconds left in the period, Schewee's diagonal ball was just a little too high. Senior Rodcliff Hall met the ball at the far post, but it glanced off the top of Hall's head and out of bounds.
In the second period, Wiest blocked a shot by Sviderskiy at point-blank range, and sophomore Jake Genrich cleared the ball out of harm's way. The resulting counterattack resulted in a Lekarev shot that caught Kenneson out of position. But, a defender was able to block the shot for a 'team save'.
With just over three minutes gone in the period, the Falcons were awarded a penalty kick. Baraldi took that kick, but his shot hit the outside of the post and caromed out of bounds.
Eight minutes into the half, Schewee brought the ball along the end line and slid a pass into the path of the onrushing Joey D'Agostino. The senior tri-captain uncorked a blast from about 10 yards out, but Kenneson made the point-blank save.
A steal by Baraldi several minutes later resulted in a Davidson foul in the Wildcats' defensive end of the field. Baraldi took the ensuing free kick, and hit the woodwork for the second time in under 10 minutes. Baraldi's hard, curving shot that struck the crossbar, keeping the Falcons' lead at a single goal.
With 20 minutes to go, what looked to be a threatening Davidson foray into BG's end of the field resulted in a relatively soft shot by Alan Reiter that rolled right to Wiest.
Hall and fellow senior Anthony Grant worked the ball into the DC end, as Hall one-timed a pass in the direction of Grant, then made a diagonal, left-to-right run without the ball. Grant found Hall with a return pass, and Hall hit a low right-side cross that went through the box without a player from either team getting to it.
A moment later, however, the Falcons had the ball back. Baraldi laid the ball back to the charging James, who hit a shot that sailed just high.
As the clock ticked under five minutes, the Falcons got the insurance goal they had been threatening to get for nearly the entire match. James started the sequence, hitting a ball into the box from the right side. The ball sailed wide of the far post, but Baraldi hustled to save the ball before it rolled over the end line. His pass went to Sullivan on the left side of the field.
Baraldi received Sullivan's return pass, and fired a hard shot from the left side, just as he reached the 18-yard line. The shot, which may have found the far corner anyway, deflected off of a Davidson defender, giving Kenneson no chance to save it. The ball sailed into the upper right corner.
The Wildcats looked to cut into the lead in the final minutes of play, but the only Davidson shot during that time, off the foot of Sviderskiy, was well wide with just under a minute left in the match.
BGSU had an 18-14 advantage in total shots, and each team had eight shots on goal. Baraldi and James led the Brown and Orange with five shots each, while Baraldi and Schewee both put two shots on goal.
"After our initial goal, we continued to create some good chances tonight," said Nichols, who spent a year as an assistant coach at Davidson before taking the BG head-coaching job in 2009. "Missing the PK early in the second half was a real test of our character. It was a test to see if we could regroup and keep the pedal down. We were able to do that, and went on to get the insurance goal.
"Credit to Davidson; they moved the ball on us, and moved us around like very few teams have done this year. The definitely challenged us, as far as our defensive organization.
"But, credit also to Mike Wiest and everyone who played in front of him, for holding them off of the scoreboard and limiting their chances. Again, I'm very pleased for the guys to come on the road, play against a quality team like Davidson, and get a result."
The Falcons are back in action on Tuesday night (Oct. 22), taking on Wright State University in Dayton in the annual battle for the I-75 Cup. That match will begin at 7:00 p.m.
FALCON NOTES * Sophomore Joe Sullivan's goal was the second of his young career. He has scored in each of the Falcons' last two road matches, and both goals have proven to be game winners. Sullivan scored late in the second half in BG's 1-0 win at Buffalo (Oct. 4).
* Junior Danny Baraldi, like Sullivan, scored his second goal of the season on Saturday night. Both of Baraldi's 2013 goals have come on the road, as he converted a penalty kick at Marshall on Sept. 27.
* Baraldi has 42 career points at BGSU, on 13 goals and 16 assists. He leads all active Falcons in each of those three categories.
* Junior Vlad Lekarev picked up the second assist of his career. His first collegiate assist also came in the Carolinas, as he had a helper in the Falcons' match at Coastal Carolina last fall (Sept. 9, 2012).
* Senior Sean Sikich's assist on the Sullivan goal was his second of the season and the third of his career. All three of his helpers have come on game-winning goals, with his other two assists coming in overtime of BGSU wins over Wright State last year (Oct. 30, 2012) and Northern Illinois this year (Oct. 12, 2013).
* Sullivan's assist on Saturday night was his second of the season. He is second on the team in scoring, with his six points just one behind team-leading Anthony Grant.
* Sullivan's three-point game vs. Davidson was the first of his career.
* Senior Michael Wiest had his sixth shutout of the season and the 19th clean sheet of his career. His total of eight saves was a season high, and was just two away from his career-high total of 10, set in the aforementioned Coastal Carolina match.
* Wiest now has a goals-against average of just 0.79 and a saves percentage of .818 this season. In his career, he has a GAA of 0.99 and a saves pct. of .804.
* Wiest has had at least six shutouts in each of the last three seasons. He is the first Falcon 'keeper to accomplish that feat since Scott Vallow (1995-98). Vallow posted double-digit shutout totals in each of his four seasons en route to a BGSU-record 42 career shutouts.
* The last time the Falcons scored two or more goals in a game was in the 2013 season opener, a 5-0 win over Malone back on Aug. 30.
* The last time the Falcons scored two or more goals against a Division-I opponent was in the overtime win over Wright State last season (Oct. 30, 2012).
* The last time BGSU scored two goals on the road was 51 weeks ago, in a 2-0 victory at Florida Atlantic (Oct. 26, 2012).