The Falcons will seek to build on a very productive double-digit win season during which they were one win away from earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Departures and Gaps – Key departures due to graduation include forward Chris Brennan (4g, 4a) a four-year starter, forwad Charlie Maciejewski (1g, 4a) a two-year starter, defender Tom Wrobel (1g, 0a) a three-year starter, and goalkeeper Anthony Mwembia a four-year starter. Mwembia was a 2019 All-MAC First-Team selection. Brennan and Maciejewski were All-MAC Second Team honorees.
Opportuniteis for Improvement – The ability and the toughness to close out the contests needed to win the MAC regular season and tournament titles.
Coach’s Recruiting Class Comment – Eric Nichols stated, “They are a tremendous group with a lot of talent, character and drive, and we look forward to working with them during this exciting phase of their lives.”
Summary – BGSU defeated NIU 2-1 and Akron 1-0 to advance to the MAC championship game in 2019 for the tenth time in program history and the first time since 2014. Their season ended at that point when they were edged by West Virgina 1-0 in the title match. The Falcons will enter the 2020 campaign remembering what it was like to reach the tournament final. They will also remember what it was like to come so close to winning the championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament and to fall short. Getting back to the title match and winning it will no doubt be among their goals in 2020.
Bowling Green will be older in 2020 with a lot of upperclassmen in key roles. Taking the next step and pushing to the top of the MAC will not be an easy task but with the experience and talent that Eric Nichols will have to work with the potential to do that exists.
Nichols will have a versatile and athletic roster and the capability for a variety of lineup options. Senior Chris Sullivan (7g, 9a), a 2019 All-MAC Second Team selection, returns to power the offense up-top or in the midfield. Sullivan led the Falcons in goals and assists last year and will likely be the centerpiece of BGSU’s attack again in 2020. Sophomore Spencer Straka (2g, 0a) who appeared in seven contests last year is among other returning forwards who will seek to play a greater role in 2020.
The midfield will be deep and experienced. Senior Zach Buescher (0g, 1a), a 2019 All-MAC Second Team member with three years of starting experience under his belt, returns to bring stability and consistency to the midfield. He will be joined by senior Vinny Worner (2g, 0a) a two-year starter and juniors Kale Nichols (3g, 3a) and Jenson Lukacsko (0g, 1a) who also have two years of starting experience. Junior Colin McCort and sophomores Nathan Masters (0g, 2a) and Eli Shope are among other returning linkmen who look to the in the hunt for additional minutes in 2020.
Senior center back Achille Robin (5g, 4a) returns to add leadership, toughness, and another dimension to the offense. Robin was a 2019 All-MAC First Team selection who played every second of every contest last year and has been a starter for the past two years. Junior Matt Walters (1g, 4a) who has two years of starting experience and sophomore Michael Montemurri (2g, 0a) who turned in a quality campaign in a starting role as a freshman are among others who should play a prominent role on the defensive side of the ball in 2020. Jake Erlandson, a senior transfer who was a three-year starter and NAIA All-American at Huntington University, is among several members of the recruiting class who could challenge for playing time in the back.
The departure of goalkeeper Anthony Mwembia creates the biggest void to fill. Mwembia was a prime timer who consistently came up with the key stops needed to give his team the opportunity to prevail. Mwembia had a stellar four-year career at BGSU with thirty career shutouts including eleven in 2019 to become the first Falcon netminder since the 1998 season to record double-digit shutouts in a single season. Sophomore Logan Kowalczyk and junior Alec Srodawa and newcomer Brendan Graves who was a High School All-American are among those who look to battle for the starting role in goal.
The emergence of another goal scorer or two to supplement the play of Chris Sullivan and add balance to the attack, the toughness needed to close out the close contests, and the ability to successfully fill the gap that exists due to the departure of Mwembia look to be among the keys to success at Bowling Green in 2020. Whether this group has what it requires to take the next step and to get over the hump remains to be seen. It should be an interesting season for the Falcons.
Jake Erlandson – Defender – Waynesville, Ohio – Dayton Christian High School – Senior transfer from Huntington University where he was a three-year starter and NAIA All-American. Scored a total of twenty-one goals and contributed two assists at Huntington University.
Joey Akpunonu – Defender – Holland, Ohio – St. John’s Jesuit. – Named to the All-Ohio First Team by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association as a senior. Named Three Rivers Athletic Conference Player of the Year. Distict Player of the Year. Team captain. Played club for Pacesetter SC.
Kyle Blasingame – Midfielder – Oswego, Illinois – Oswego East High School – Four-year varsity member and two-year captain. Scored seven goals and had eleven assists. Played club for Galaxy SC.
Kyle Cusimano – Defender – Bay Village, Ohio – Bay High School – Four-year varsity team member. Named the 2019 United Soccer Coaches High School Boys National Player of the Year. Named the OSSCA Ohio Boys Division II Player of the Year. First Team All-Ohio selection. Team captain. Scored thirty-two goals and contributed twenty-six assists as a senior. Had eighty-one career goals and sixty-four career assists. PLaed club for Team Challenger FC.
Brendan Graves – Goalkeeper – Perrysburg, Ohio – Perrysburg High School – Three-year team captain. Allstate High School All-American. All-Ohio Division One First Team selection. All-Region selection. All-Conference and All-District First-Team member. Played club for Pacesetter SC.
Patrick Koenig – Forward – Naperville, Illinois – North High School – Four-year varsity member. All-Conference and All-Sectional selection. Forty-one career goals and fourteen career assists. Played club for Galaxy SC.