// Men's Soccer

Falcons Head to MAC Tournament to Face No. 1 Akron

Semifinal matches set for Friday at FirstEnergy Stadium - Cub Cadet Field

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Michael Wiest - Kristi Kopaniasz photo
The Bowling Green State University men's soccer team, after a one-year absence, returns to the Mid-American Conference Tournament.  The Falcons of head coach Eric Nichols, seeded fourth for the four-team tourney, will face the number-one team in the nation in the semifinal round.  BGSU meets the University of Akron in Friday (Nov. 9) action, with the match scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

BGSU Weekly Notes   |   BGSU 2012 Stats   |   Career Stats of 2012 Falcons
THE OPPONENTS:  Akron   |   Northern Illinois   |   West Virginia
BGSU-UA Live Stats   |   BGSU-UA Live Streaming   |   2012 BGSU Media Guide

The other semifinal-round match will pit second-seeded Northern Illinois University against the third seed, West Virginia University.  That match begins at 4:00 p.m. on Friday.  The two semifinal-round winners advance to Sunday's (Nov. 11) championship match, which is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.  Regular-season champion Akron is the tournament's host, with all three games taking place at UA's FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

(all matches at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field; Akron, Ohio)
Friday, November 9 – Semifinals

#3 West Virginia vs. #2 Northern Illinois, 4:00 p.m.
#4 Bowling Green at #1 Akron, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, November 11 – Championship
WVU/NIU winner vs. BGSU/UA winner, 4:30 p.m.

• Tickets for this weekend's tournament can be purchased online at GoZips.com/Tickets, on the phone by calling 1-888-99-AKRON (25766), or by visiting UA's athletics ticket office at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field (located at the southwest corner of the venue, near Gate 1, at the corner of East Exchange and South Union streets).

• Live stats for all three MAC Tournament matches will be available via GoZips.com, and the link(s) to live stats for any BGSU matches in the tournament will be available on BGSUFalcons.com. Simply click on the 'calendar' tab on the front page of the site, or access the stats via the BGSU men's soccer schedule page.

• Similarly, live streaming will be available via GoZips.com, with any BGSU matches linked through BGSUFalcons.com.

• For periodic twitter updates during any of BGSU's matches this weekend, follow @BGSUmenssoccer and/or @Mike Cihon.

BGSU enters Friday's match with an overall record of 17-13-0 in the MAC Tournament.  The Falcons are 4-4-0 in road tourney matches through the years, and BGSU is 8-3-0 in the semifinal round heading into the Akron match.  BG qualified for the MAC Tournament in each of the first 15 years in which it was held (1994-2008), and also advanced to the tournament in 2010.  The Falcons are 6-5-0 in quarterfinal-round matches (a quarterfinal round is no longer held) and 3-5-0 in the championship round.  BGSU won three-straight titles from 1995-97 under coach Mel Mahler. That was part of a run in which the Brown and Orange advanced to the championship match in five consecutive seasons between 1994 and '98.

The Falcons will be meeting Akron for the eighth time in MAC Tournament play, and the Zips have a slim 4-3-0 advantage in prior league tourney meetings.  BGSU captured each of the first three MAC Tournament matchups, downing the Zips in the semifinal round in the inaugural tournament in 1994, and posting wins in the championship match in both '95 and '97.  But, UA has won each of the last four MAC Tournament meetings, with championship-game victories in both 1998 and 2002, a quarterfinal-round triumph in 2004 and a semifinal-round win in the 2006 season.  That '06 meeting saw the Zips win by a lopsided 8-2 final.  The teams have split the previous two league tourney matches played in the Rubber City, with BG's win coming in '94 (1-0) and UA's home victory coming in the '98 final (4-1).

BGSU enters the MAC Tournament with an overall record of 8-8-3, and the Falcons finished conference play with a 3-3-1 league mark.  BG tied for fourth place in the MAC with Western Michigan, but the Falcons earned the fourth and final seed for the MAC Tournament by virtue of a win over the Broncos in the teams' head-to-head meeting.

The Falcons defeated Wright State, 3-2 in overtime, on Tuesday (Oct. 30), to extend the team's win streak to three matches.  That winning streak, as well as the Falcons' four-match unbeaten streak, was a season high.  Those streaks, however, came to an end with a 1-0 loss to West Virginia on Saturday night (Nov. 3).

BG's MAC wins came against Buffalo, WMU and Florida Atlantic, and the Falcons lost to Akron, Hartwick and WVU in league play, earning a draw at Northern Illinois.  Overall, BGSU went 5-4-1 at home in 2012, and the Falcons are 3-3-2 on the road and 0-1-0 in neutral-site matches this year to date.

Individually, junior Anthony Grant and sophomore Danny Baraldi rank 1-2 on the team in scoring.  Grant has 20 points, including a BG-high eight goals along with four assists, while Baraldi has 19 points on six goals and a team-leading seven assists.

Grant leads the MAC with five game-winning goals, and he scored the winner in all three of the team's conference victories.  His GWG total is the highest by a BG player since Bobby Biggs scored six winners in the 1997 season.

Baraldi has two GWG this season to date.  He has topped his goal and point totals for last season, after leading the Falcons with 18 points, including five goals, in 2011.  Baraldi now has 37 career points in 36 games at BG, with 11 goals and 15 assists as a Falcon.  Grant, like Baraldi, has scored more than a point per match during his BGSU tenure, as Grant's 20 points have come in 19 matches in his first season in Northwest Ohio.

Freshman Ryan James has 10 points on the year, with four goals and two assists.  James had two goals, including a 'Golden Goal', in the Wright State match.  Fifth-year senior Zach Lemke and junior Ryan Comiskey each have five points this season, while junior Ryan Snashall has four and juniors Zach Schewee and Brandon Silva three apiece.

In goal, junior Michael Wiest has played all 1784-plus minutes. He has 94 saves, a goals-against average of 1.06 and seven shutouts.  The junior also has a save percentage of .817.

Wiest's total of seven shutouts is the highest by a BGSU 'keeper since Dave DeGraff had seven clean sheets in the 2001 season.  No Falcon has had more shutouts in a season since Scott Vallow had 10 in 1998.  Vallow posted a double-digit total in each of his four years (1995-98) at BGSU, including a school record-tying 12 in 1997.

In front of Wiest, junior Sean Sikich has played every second of every match at a center-back position.  Silva has played 1776 of the roughly 1784 minutes this fall, while freshman defender Jake Genrich has been on the pitch for 1732 minutes and Lemke 1664.  Genrich, Sikich, Silva and Wiest have started all 19 matches for the Falcons this year to date.

The Falcons were ranked 103rd of 204 schools in the latest NCAA Men's Soccer RPI, released Monday (Nov. 5) by the NCAA office.  Friday's opponent, Akron, is ranked second in the nation, trailing only Notre Dame.  The other two MAC Tournament participants, West Virginia and Northern Illinois, are ranked 45th and 116th, respectively, in this week's RPI.

The Falcons were picked to finish sixth in the MAC standings in 2010, according to the preseason coaches poll, but BGSU wound up in a fourth-place tie in the final standings.  The poll was the result of voting by the league's eight head coaches.  Akron was picked to win the 2012 MAC title, with West Virginia tabbed to finish second and Northern Illinois third.  The complete poll, with points received and the teams' actual finishes, follows.
BGSU men's soccer - Aug 24 2012 - Kara Fallon, BGSU Mkt & Comm
Team               Pts  Actual Finish
1 - Akron           62  First
2 - West Virginia   53  T-Second
3 - Northern Ill.   51  T-Second
4 - Western Mich.   32  T-Fourth
5 - Hartwick        31  Seventh
6 - Bowling Green   25  T-Fourth
7 - Buffalo         23  Sixth
8 - Fla. Atlantic   11  Eighth

Akron enters the BGSU match with an overall record of 15-1-2, and the Zips won the MAC regular-season title with a 7-0-0 league mark.  UA scored 20 goals and allowed just one in the seven MAC matches.  Akron is ranked number one in the nation in the three major polls that have been released this week to date.  That list includes the Continental Tire NSCAA poll, as well as the Top Drawer Soccer and College Soccer News listings.  The Zips have won 12-straight matches and are unbeaten in the last 13 contests.

Individually, Scott Caldwell leads the team in scoring, with 24 points on nine goals and six assists.  Reinaldo Brenes has 22 points, including a team-high 10 goals.  Brenes scored eight goals and 17 of his points in MAC play.  Eric Stevenson (16 pts.) and Dillon Serna (12) each have double-digit point totals this season.  In goal, David Meves has 14 shutouts and a goals-against average of just 0.33.  He has broken the NCAA career shutouts record, and now has a total of 52.  The Zips have allowed just one goal in their last 1181:30 of play.  Coach Caleb Porter's program has gone 39-1-1 in MAC regular-season play since he took over in 2006.

The Falcons trail Akron, 41-8-3, in the all-time series between the teams, and the Zips have won the last 13 meetings. In the teams' 2012 regular-season matchup, UA scored twice within a two-minute span in the first half en route to a 2-0 win at Cochrane Field (Sept. 22, 2012).  The last time the Falcons ventured to Akron, the Zips scored three second-half goals for a 3-0 win over the Brown and Orange (Oct. 26, 2011).  BGSU's last victory over the Zips came 10 years ago, a 1-0 triumph at Cochrane (Oct. 27, 2002), and the Falcons have not scored a goal against Akron since the 2006 campaign.

Fifth-year senior Zach Lemke, senior Joey D'Agostino and redshirt junior Brandon Silva are the tri-captains of the 2012 Falcons.

The winner of the BGSU-Akron match will advance to the MAC Tournament championship match, taking on the winner of Friday's first semifinal, pitting Northern Illinois vs. West Virginia.  The championship is set for Sunday (Nov. 11) at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field, with the winner earning the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
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