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Bowling Green State University 2018 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School: Bowling Green State University 
Conference: Mid-American Conference  
Coach:  Eric Nichols – 10th Season 
2017 Record:  7-9-1 overall, 1-3-1 in conference play 
2017 Final Season Ending Rank:  N/A
Key Personnel Losses from 2017 Team:  Defender Alexis Souahy and forward Brad Macomber due to graduation.  

Five Year Win Total:

2013:  6

2014:  14

2015:  9

2016:  9

2017:  7

2017 Goals Scored and Goals Allowed:  Twenty scored, eighteen allowed
2017 Goals Scored and Goals Allowed Per Game: 1.18 scored, 1.06 allowed
2017 Key Statistic:  Began season with five consecutive wins. 

Background:  Bowling Green has a 69-75-25 record to date during the nine seasons that Eric Nichols has been at the helm of the program. 

After beginning the 2017 season with a 5-0-0 record the Falcons were ranked in both the United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News polls.  However, from that point forward they had a roller coaster 2017 season and were unable to put together a sustained winning streak. 

In 2016 Bowling Green was undefeated in MAC play recording the program's highest finish in conference play since the 2002 season. 

The Falcons have steadily improved in terms of their competitiveness and the relevance of the progam in both conference and non-conference play.   

Defender Alexis Souahy and forward Chris Brennan were 2017 All-MAC Second Team selections.  Souahy was also named to the United Soccer Coaches All-Great Lakes Region Team. 

Number Starters Slated To Return in 2018:  Nine 


Coach Nichols stated, "This is an impressive class.  Each one of these young men have accomplished a great deal, and each has a huge desire to be successful at the next level.  This combinatin of ambition, skill and mentality is exceptional and is a formulat that will lead to big things for Bowling Green Men's Soccer."

Mitchel Hughes – Midfielder – Columbus, Ohio, Whetstone High School – Played club for Ohio Premier.  Enrolled in the spring 2018 semester.  

Jensen Lukascko – Midfielder – Gahanna, Ohio – Lincoln High School – Played club for the Columbus Crew Academy.  Team captain.  Crew Academy Player of the Year in 2018.  

Colin McCort – Midfielder – Powell, Ohio – Olentangy Liberty – Played for Ohio Premier.  Named to the 2017 United Soccer Coaches Boys All-America Team.  All-Conference.  All-State First Team. 

Kale Nichols – Midfielder – Bowling Green, Ohio, St. John's Jesuit HIgh School – Played for the Crew Academy.  First Team All-District.  All-League. 

Alec Strodawa – Goalkeeper – Copley, Ohio, Copley High School – Played for the Crew Academy. Played for Team Challenger FC.  

Isaac Swiger – Midfielder – Faimont, West Virginia – Fairmont High School – Four-time All-State selection.  Netted thirty-nine goals his senior season.  Named West Virginia Coaches Association State Player of the Year.  127 career goals.  Played for Steel Town Magic. 

Ryan Troutman – Goalkeeper – Louisville, Kentucky – Trinty HIgh School – First-team All-State selection.  Played for Javanon FC.  

Matt Walters – Defender – Marysville, Ohio – Marysville HIgh School – Played for Ohio Premier.  Three-time All-Conference First Team selection.  All-District.    

Outlook for 2018 Season:  Bowling Green entered the 2017 season with high hopes of continuing to build on the momentum the program has enjoyed over the past three seasons.  For the first five games of the 2017 season everything went according to plan with five consecutive wins and a spot in the national polls.  It looked like the Falcons were headed toward a double-digit win season.  Instead from that point forward they had a roller coaster season beginning with four consecutive losses during a brutal ten day span that included contests on the road with Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State. Bowling Green played everyone close the remainder of the season but lapses in play hampered their productivity and they concluded the 2017 campaign with a total of seven wins. 

The Falcons under Eric Nichols have developed into a program that can compete favorably with anyone. The Falcons have a very strong, blue collar work ethic that contributes to their effectiveness.  With nine starters slated to return supplemented by a very good recruiting class, Bowling Green has a legitimate shot at a much more complete season in 2018 and an increase in their win total. However, whether they will have all the ingredients necessary to produce the consistency and focus needed to significantly increase their victory total in 2018 is a bit of a mystery at this point.   

Junior Chris Brennan (5g, 4a) returns to lead the attack up-top.  Brennan was Bowling Green's top goal scorer last year.  He has big play ability and the potential to be a difference maker.

Senior Tate Robertson (2g, 7a) who led the Falcons in assists last year returns to provide punch to the attack in the midfield. Robertson is a playmaker with three years of starting experience under his belt. Senior Peter Pugliese (0g, 3a), junior Charlie Maciejewski (1g, 1a) and sophomores Chris Sullivan (2g, 1a), Zach Buescher (0g, 3a) and Vinny Worner join Robertson to give Bowling Green a very solid and deep contingent of returning midfielders.  Newcomers Jensen Lukacsko who played for the Columbus Crew Academy and Ike Swiger who was named the 2017 West Virginia Coaches Association State Player of the Year are among the members of the recruiting class who look to be in the mix for playing time in the midfield.    

Back Alexis Souahy (3g, 2a) who played every second of every match in 2017 and was a three year starter leaves some big shoes to fill in the backline. Souahy was a team leader who did a lot of things well. Seniors Moe Mustafa (4g, 1a) and Ebenezer Ackon (0g, 2a) and junior Tom Wrobel are among returning defenders who figure to play prominent roles in 2018. Freshman Mitchell Hughes who participated in the spring season looks to be in the hunt for a starting role as an outside back.    

Junior Anthony Mwembia returns to give the Falcons a talented and experienced presence in goal.  Last year he had a 1.04 goals against average and posted seven shutouts. 

The level of parity that now exists in the MAC means that there is little margin for error. The dffference between a win and a loss can be slight.  .  .  

The bottom line is that there is reason for cautious optimism at Bowling Green in 2018.  A productive double-digit win season is not out of the question but it will require improvement and greater consistency on both sides of the ball.   

Bowling Green will be competitive and battle tested but in order to win the close contests that eluded them last year, they will need to put together a full ninety minutes of play on a consistent basis for the entire season. The offense lead by Brennan and Robertson among others will need to finish a higher percentage of the scoring opportunities that come their way and the defense anchored by back Mustfa and netminder Mwembia must remain organized and avoid costly breakdowns.       

The Falcons look to be a team with something to prove. The struggles and lessons learned in 2017 could turn into the fruits of the 2018 campaign. 

Posted in 2018 Team Reviews

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