The Bowling Green State University men's soccer team struck quickly, scoring twice within the game's first nine minutes en route to a 3-0 win over Cleveland State University Sunday night (Sept. 6). The non-conference match was held at Cochrane Stadium.
With the win, the Falcons improve to 4-0-0 on the young season. BGSU has won the first four games of the year for the first time since 1995.
Junior Pat Flynn
fed classmate Joe Sullivan
for the game's first goal with less than four minutes gone, and Flynn scored two goals himself to increase his season total to six. Flynn now has 14 points on the year, while Sullivan -- who had the primary assist on Flynn's first goal -- has nine points on three goals and three assists.
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PHOTO GALLERY: Photos courtesy Larry Clapper
Senior Ryan James
had a pair of assists on the night. At the other end of the pitch, redshirt junior Ryan Heuton
was forced to make just two saves as he and the Falcon defense posted a second-straight shutout.
The Falcons scored on two of their first three shots to seize control. BGSU had a 26-7 advantage in total shots on the evening, and the Falcons put 10 shots on goal to the Vikings' two. In addition to the three goals, the home team put the ball in the back of the net on two other occasions, but the assistant referee's flag was up, indicating offside in each case. And, another BG shot hit the crossbar.
The game's first goal came on the game's first shot. James won the ball just over midfield, and played a pass ahead to Flynn. Flynn in turn slid a ball to his left, where Sullivan was unmarked and heading toward the 18-yard box. Sullivan took two touches and tucked a shot into the lower-left-hand corner of the net, giving the Falcons the lead just 3:56 into the contest.
After drawing the primary assist on Sullivan's goal, Flynn would double the lead just 8:51 into the match. Sophomore Alexis Souahy
slid a pass to Sullivan, who played a long ball ahead for Flynn. The ball sailed toward the penalty area, with Flynn and CSU goalkeeper Nick Ciraldo each charging toward it. Just before Ciraldo arrived, Flynn got his foot on the ball, poking it past the Vikings' 'keeper and into the vacated net. Sullivan and Souahy drew assists on the golazo, and the Falcons had a two-nil lead.
In the 17th minute of the match, after a CSU foul near the Vikings' bench, junior Jacob Roth
blasted a free kick toward goal. The curving shot hit the crossbar near the far post, bouncing straight down before the visitors cleared the ball off of the line.
Just over a minute later, the Falcons were threatening again. This time, after a give-and-go between Sullivan and Flynn, Sullivan found James with a nifty pass, but James' shot went just left of the target.
Under two minutes later, a Roth free kick was deflected by a CSU defender. Sullivan, on the right side of the six-yard box, popped the ball toward the other side of the box, where a host of players were gathered. Souahy rose above all of those players to meet the ball, but his header went wide of the right post.
Midway through the period, Flynn was cut down from behind in the penalty box as the ball rolled over the end line. A corner kick was awarded, and the Viking defense cleared it out of danger.
Just under a half hour into the match, CSU appeared to have a good scoring chance, as Alec Nagucki came up with a steal. With the visitors on a 2-on-1 break, Nagucki attempted to slide a pass to Silvester Messiah, but a BG defender knocked the ball away as the Vikings looked to enter the 18-yard box.
Thirteen minutes remained in the half when two of the Falcons' Naperville, Ill., natives were at it again. Sullivan fired a shot from the left side of the box that was blocked. The rebound went to Flynn on the left side of the six-yard area, and Flynn's follow-up try was stopped by a diving Ciraldo.
With under five minutes left in the period, Sullivan's shot from the left side forced Ciraldo to make a headlong dive, as the CSU 'keeper just barely tipped the ball wide of the far post. With roughly 20 seconds to go in the half, after a lengthy buildup that involved James, redshirt junior Danny Shea
and sophomore Keaton Reynolds
, Sullivan knocked the ball to James, who blasted a shot that pinballed off of a CSU defender and out of bounds.
The Falcons hurried to set up a corner kick, and Sullivan took that kick with nine seconds on the clock. With two seconds left in the period, CSU's Sergio Manesio fouled redshirt freshman Bismark Agyeman
. The clock was stopped with two seconds left as Manesio was shown a yellow card. Roth took the ensuing free kick, and his hard shot forced Ciraldo to make a save at the near post just before the horn sounded to end the period.
The home team was threatening again early in the second half. James fired back-to-back shots in the 53rd minute, with the first shot blocked by a defender. The ball caromed back to James, who fired again, but Ciraldo was able to make the save.
Two minutes later, Roth played a ball toward the box from the right side, Souahy headed the ball toward redshirt junior Max Auden
, who also met it with his head. But, Auden's shot sailed just over the crossbar.
In the 65th minute, Sullivan headed home a free kick by Roth, but the goal was waved off due to an offside call. Two minutes later, however, the ball would wind up in the back of the net again, and this one counted.
Flynn's second goal of the night was a blast from the top of the box. After a pass from James, Flynn took several touches as he moved from right to left, approximately 18 yards from goal. The CSU defense left Flynn with just a little too much room to work with, and the striker took full advantage, blistering a shot past the helpless Ciraldo and into the left side of the net. James picked up his second assist of the evening, and BG's lead was increased to three goals.
With twenty minutes to go, Ciraldo was forced to come way off his line in an attempt to break up another BG threat. Flynn played a ball ahead to Sullivan on the right side of the box, and Ciraldo charged out of his net, forcing Sullivan to his right. The BG junior was able to get a shot off, but it was blocked by a defender.
The ball caromed toward the other side of the field, but as Agyeman played it back into the penalty area, the clock was stopped and a red card was shown to Manesio. And, an indirect free kick was awarded to the Falcons inside the 18-yard box, but Roth's shot was blocked by the Vikings' defense.
In the 77th minute of play, Agyeman played a ball to a wide-open Tate Robertson
, as the freshman raced behind the last line of CSU defense, but the Falcons were ruled offside. Two minutes later, an entry ball eluded a Viking defender and went directly to Auden in the box. He turned and blasted a shot past Ciraldo, but again, offside was the call.
With seven minutes to go, Ciraldo made a save against Auden from point-blank range, and after a corner kick, he stopped a Souahy shot as well.
Arguably CSU's best chance of the night came in the 90th minute, as Heuton made a diving stop of a Kareem Banton shot with approximately 20 seconds remaining. BG cleared the ball, and Falcon freshman Ryan Ross
got a shot off at the other end of the pitch, forcing Ciraldo to make his seventh and final save in the closing seconds.
The Falcons hit the road for the first time in the 2015 regular season, albeit for a pair of neutral-site matches. BGSU will take on Evansville and Robert Morris in next weekend's Marshall Invitational in Huntington, W.Va. The Evansville match is set for Friday (Sept. 11), while the Falcons and RMU will meet on Sunday afternoon (Sept. 13).