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BGSU Heads to Kalamazoo as November Begins

Falcons face Broncos in key MAC matchup

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Jake Genrich v Hartwick - Oct 26 2013
The Bowling Green State University men's soccer team hits the road for a key Mid-American Conference match this weekend, as the regular season winds down and the conference race heats up. The Falcons of head coach Eric Nichols travel to Kalamazoo, Mich., to face the MAC's lone remaining unbeaten, Western Michigan University. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at the WMU Soccer Complex.

Western Michigan Men's Soccer
VIDEO: On the Road with the Falcons
Wiest Named College Sports Madness MAC P-O-W
Wiest Named MAC Scholar-Athlete of the Week

There are just two weeks left in the regular season, but there is still a long way to go before the MAC Tournament race is decided. The top-four teams will qualify for the league tourney, which will be held on Nov. 15-17 at the site of the regular-season champion. BGSU is 2-1-1 in conference action with two matches to go. Several teams, including league-leading Akron, have only one regular-season conference match remaining, while a few schools still have three MAC games to be played. The standings, along with remaining MAC matches and maximum possible points, are below.
Team (Overall)             MAC   Pts. (Max.)  Remaining MAC Matches
1. Akron (12-3-1)         4-1-0   12   (15)   @WMU
2. Western Mich. (6-7-1)  2-0-1    7   (16)   v BGSU, @NIU, v Akron
3. Bowling Green (5-6-5)  2-1-1    7   (13)   @WMU, @WVU
4. Hartwick (4-7-4)       2-2-1    7   (10)   v NIU
5. West Virginia (6-6-4)  1-2-1    4   (10)   @Buffalo, v BGSU
6. Buffalo (3-10-3)       1-3-0    3    (9)   v WVU, @NIU
7. Northern Ill. (4-11-0) 0-3-0    0    (9)   @Hartwick, v WMU, v Buffalo
Teams earn 3 points per win, 1 point per tie
(Max.) - maximum possible pts. a team could earn by winning all remaining matches

THE STARTING XI (11 things you should know about the Falcons)
• The Falcons are 5-6-5 on the season after a win and a tie last week. BGSU picked up a 1-0 win at Wright State on Tuesday (Oct. 22), then battled Hartwick to a 1-1 draw at Cochrane Field on Saturday night (Oct. 26). Both matches required double overtime.

• BGSU has now played eight overtime matches this season to date, tying the school record. The 1984 Falcons originally set that record, and the 2003 club tied the mark, also seeing eight matches go to overtime.

• The Hartwick match resulted in the Falcons' fifth draw of the season, matching another school record. The 1979 team tied five matches, finishing with a 7-5-5 mark, and the '84 club equalled that record as well, going 8-9-5.

• The victory at WSU enabled the Falcons to retain possession of the I-75 Cup, a travelling trophy that goes to the winner of the BGSU-Wright State match each year. The Falcons have won three of the four meetings since BG head coach Eric Nichols and WSU coach Bryan Davis came up with the idea prior to the 2010 season. Tuesday's match marked the first time the road team had won since the trophy's inception.

• Last week's results give the Falcons a three-match unbeaten streak, tied for the team's longest of the season. BGSU also had a three-game unbeaten stretch from Sept. 27 to Oct. 4, with draws against Marshall and Northern Kentucky and a win over Buffalo.

• All three of those matches (MU, NKU and UB) were played on the road. After wins at Davidson (2-0, Oct. 19) and WSU, the Falcons enter the Western Michigan match unbeaten in the last five road games, having gone 3-0-2 in that time. BG's last road loss was a 1-0 setback at Akron on Sept. 21.

• Senior goalkeeper Michael Wiest and BGSU have not allowed a goal on the road since late in regulation of that Marshall match on Sept. 27. The Falcons enter the WMU contest having gone 415:18 without surrendering a goal in a road game.

• A few overtime facts: The Falcons are now 2-1-5 in overtime matches this season. All eight of those matches have gone to double-OT. Four of the Falcons' last five overall matches have required OT, and five of the team's seven home games have gone to extra time in 2013.

• Saturday's Hartwick match was 'Senior Night' for the men's soccer Falcons, with the program's seniors recognized in on-field ceremonies. The 2013 senior class features no fewer than 10 student-athletes: Ryan Comiskey, Joey D'Agostino, Anthony Grant, Matt Griesinger, Rodcliff Hall, Zach Schewee, Sean Sikich, Brandon Silva, Ryan Snashall and Wiest.

• Wiest earned two awards in as many days for his play in last week's matches. On Tuesday (Oct. 29), the College Sports Madness web site named the senior its MAC Player of the Week. The next day, the conference office announced Wiest as the MAC Scholar-Athlete of the Week. Wiest had a goals-against average of just 0.42 and a saves percentage of .900 in the WSU and Hartwick matches.

• The Falcons have outshot the opponent in each of the last nine games. BGSU has advantages of 160-100 in total shots and 70-38 in shots on goal during that time. BG has had more corner kicks than the opposition in each of the last eight matches, with 49 corners to the foes' 17 during that span.

• Senior goalkeeper Michael Wiest made four saves as he and the BG defense recorded a shutout at Wright State. The clean sheet was Wiest's seventh of the season, and his fifth in a seven-match span. Wiest now has 20 shutouts in his career.

• Wiest has been in goal for every second of the Falcons' 16 matches this season to date. In addition to the seven complete-match shutouts, the Naperville, Ill., native has 63 saves, a goals-against average of just 0.74 and a saves percentage of .829. Wiest currently leads the MAC in total saves and saves pct., and is second in the league in shutouts and GAA.

• In MAC games only, Wiest has a saves percentage of .875 and a GAA of just 0.46, having allowed only two goals in the four conference contests to date.

• In his career, Wiest now has a total of 206 saves, a saves pct. of .808 and a GAA of 0.97 in 50 career matches (49 starts).

• Wiest is the first Falcon 'keeper to record six or more shutouts in three consecutive seasons since another Naperville, Ill., native did so a decade-and-a-half ago. BGSU Hall-of-Famer Scott Vallow posted double-digit shutout totals in each of his four seasons (1995-98) en route to a BGSU-record 42 career shutouts.

The Falcons are 5-6-5 on the season, and BGSU is 2-1-1 in MAC play. BG has a record of 2-2-3 at home this year, and the Falcons are 3-3-2 on the road and 0-1-0 in neutral-site matches to date.

The Falcons have scored 14 goals and allowed 13 this season. Senior Anthony Grant leads the team with three goals and seven points. Senior Ryan Comiskey, junior Danny Baraldi and freshman Joe Sullivan are tied for second on the team with two goals apiece. Sullivan is second on the Falcons with six points this fall, while Baraldi and Comiskey have five each. Comiskey scored BG's goal in the Hartwick match on Saturday.

Four other Falcons have one goal apiece. That group includes seniors Joey D'Agostino, Brandon Silva and Ryan Snashall and sophomore Ryan James. BGSU's goal at Wright State was an own goal.

BGSU has a total of 13 assists, with Sullivan and senior Sean Sikich leading the way with two apiece. Nine of their teammates have one assist each.

Three Falcons have started all 16 of BGSU's matches to date. That list includes Sikich, Silva and fellow senior Michael Wiest. D'Agostino, senior Zach Schewee and sophomore Jake Genrich each have made 15 starts, while Grant has started 14 matches and Baraldi, James and Snashall 13 apiece.

In goal, Wiest has played every second of every match this season to date. He has 63 saves, seven shutouts and a goals-against average of 0.74. In four MAC matches, Wiest has a GAA of 0.46 and a saves pct. of .875.

Wiest and Sikich each have played all 1576 minutes this season, while Silva has been on the pitch for 1563 minutes and Schewee 1543.

Head coach Eric Nichols and his staff returned a total of 13 letterwinners, including nine starters, from last year's club. The 2012 Falcons finished with an overall record of 8-9-3 and a MAC mark of 3-3-1. BGSU tied for fourth in the league regular-season standings last fall, and qualified for the MAC Tournament.

Western Michigan enters Saturday's BGSU match with a 6-7-1 overall record, and the Broncos are the lone MAC unbeaten, currently sporting a 2-0-1 league ledger. Western is riding a three-match unbeaten streak, with wins at Hartwick and at home against IPFW, and a scoreless draw at West Virginia on Saturday night (Oct. 26). The Broncos are unscored upon in three MAC matches, including a 4-0 home win over Buffalo and a 1-0 victory at HC. This week, Western's Wednesday (Oct. 30) match at Valparaiso was cancelled due to severe weather. The Broncos are 3-1-0 at home, 2-6-1 on the road and 1-0-0 in neutral-site matches this season to date.Matheau Rogers paces the WMU offense with four goals and 11 points this fall, while four of his teammates have three goals apiece. In goal, Chase Rau has 42 saves, two shutouts and a goals-against average of 1.85. First-year WMU head coach Chad Wiseman welcomed back 14 players, including five starters, from last year's club. The 2012 Broncos went 11-6-2 overall and 3-3-1 in MAC action.

The Falcons lead Western Michigan, 27-14-3, in the all-time series between the teams, and BGSU captured last season's meeting. Last year, the Brown and Orange got a goal from Anthony Grant with just over 14 minutes to go in a 2-1 BG win at Cochrane Field (Oct. 5, 2012). Danny Baraldi had a goal and an assist in that match, which snapped a five-match series winning streak by the Broncos, including a 2-1, come-from-behind Western win in the last meeting in Kalamazoo (Nov. 5, 2011). BGSU went 24-3-2 vs. WMU in the first 29 series matches, but the Broncos are 11-3-1 vs. the Falcons since that time. BG has records of 15-4-2 at home, 11-9-1 on the road and 1-1-0 in neutral-site meetings vs. the Broncos through the years.

Slowly but surely, the Falcons have improved defensively during the Eric Nichols Era. BGSU has moved up the national rankings in goals-against average, saves percentage and – not surprisingly – winning percentage in each of Nichols' first four-plus years at the helm. Last season, goalkeeper Michael Wiest and the BGSU defense ranked 29th in the nation in saves pct., 57th in the country in shutout pct. and 83rd in the country in GAA, and Wiest and the Falcons have improved on all three of those rankings this year to date. The complete information can be found in the PDF version of these notes.

The Falcons close the 2013 regular season with a pair of matches next week. BGSU hosts IPFW at Cochrane Field on Tuesday night (Nov. 5), with kickoff set for 7:00 p.m. Then, the Brown and Orange will head to Morgantown for a Friday (Nov. 8) match at West Virginia. That MAC contest also is set for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff. The top-four teams in the MAC standings will advance to the league tournament, which begins with semifinal matches on Friday, Nov. 15, at the site of the regular-season champion.
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