Bowling Green State University – Three Star Recruiting Class – Falcon head coach Eric Nichols will welcome back nine starters including All-Mid-American Conference First Team selections Anthony Grant and Danny Baraldi from the 2012 team that was 8-9-3 overall with a 3-3-1 mark in conference play. The eight win season continued the upward trend that Bowling Green has experienced under NIchols and is the most wins the program has enjoyed since the 2003 season. BGSU's season came to an end last year when they were topped by number one seeded Akron 2-0 in the MAC Tournament but the fact that the Falcons along with Akron, Northern Illinois and West Virginia were one of the four teams to qualify for the conference tournament is a plus.
The 2013 squad looks to be the deepest, most talented team that Nichols has put on the pitch to date as he begins his fifth season at BGSU. The Falcons have one of the finest returning players in the league in Grant (8g, 4a), the team's go-to guy up-top. Grant is a playmaker who adds serious scoring punch to the offense as reflected in the fact that he was responsible for five game-winning goals last year. Senior Ryan Comiskey (2g, 1a) who contributed valuable minutes last year is among other returning forwards who Nichols will likely look to for offensive firepower.
The Falcons will be without the services of midfielder Zach Lemke (1g, 3a) due to graduation. Lemke was a solid contributor and will be missed. However a productive group of linkmen return led by Baraldi (6g, 7a) who has also emerged as one of the top players in the MAC establishing over the past two seasons that he can hold his own with anyone. Baraldi, who was named to the NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region Team last year, is the guy who will likely set the pace for the Falcons. Senior Brandon Silva (1g, 1a) who has been a starter for the past three seasons and Senior Ryan Snashall who has been a starter for the past two seasons return in the midfield along with sophomore Ryan James (4g, 2a) who had an impressive freshman season. The healthy return of senior Joey D'Agostino, who missed almost all of the 2012 season due to injury and was awarded a medical redshirt, further strengthens the BGSU midfield. Junior transfer Juavanie Cole from Owens Community College comes highly recommended and should contribute immediately in the midfield or in the back.
The Falcons will be without backs Sean Hastings and Chris McLean due to graduation but an experienced group returns led by senior Zach Schewee who has three years of starting experience under his belt, senior center back Sean Sikich, and sophomore center back Jake Genrich. Seniors Matt Griesinger and Marco Ilao and juniors Jon Kumher and Vlad Lekarey are among other returning players who figure to be in the mix.
Senior Michael Wiest who played every second of every contest last year returns in goal. Wiest had a 1.10 goals against average last year while recording seven shutouts. The experience he has gained between the pipes the past two years bodes well for the Falcons in 2013.
Streakiness has been a problem at Bowling Green. The Falcons have been very competitive at times as reflected last year in their tie with Coastal Carolina on the road and win over Michigan on the road. This is a program for which there is opportunity for improvement in the consistency department if they realistically hope to up their win total.
Nichols appears to be gradually putting in place the pieces needed for the program to become a contender in the MAC. A ten win season in 2013 is not out of the question but the early schedule which includes games with Michigan, Marquette, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Akron is brutal. The schedule presents the opportunity for the Falcons to make a statement but it also could take the wind out of the sails of a team that still needs tangible success upon which to build.
Juavanie Cole – Midfielder -Fort Lauderdale, Florida – Coconut Creek High School -Owens Community College – Junior transfer. OCCAC Defensive Player of the Year. All-OCCAC First Team.
Jacob Roth – Defender -Cleveland, Ohio -St. Ignatius High School – First -Team All-Ohio selection. All-Greater Cleveland First-Team. Played club for Cleveland United SC.
Joe Sullivan – Midfielder -Naperville, Illinois – Naperville High School – All-State selection in 2012. All-DuPage Valley Conference. Had thirty-six career assists. Played club for the Galaxy Soccer Club.
Brent Winkler – Defender – Farmington Hills, Michigan – Farmington High School – Played for Crew Wolves Academy. Region II ODP team. All-State Third Team selection as a junior. All-District First Team.