Falcons earn 1-1 tie with nationally ranked Akron


Bowling Green State University freshman Andrew Shaffer’s goal midway through the second half lifted the Falcons to a 1-1 draw with the nationally ranked Akron Thursday at Cochrane Stadium.

BGSU coach Eric Nichols wanted the win, but said that tying a nationally ranked team from the Mid-American Conference is nothing to scoff at.

“Last year we lost this same game, 5-1, in a game that I thought we actually played pretty well. Akron is a lethal attacking team,” Nichols said.

“We did some really good things and created some chances. I’m sad we didn’t get more, and I know the guys are upset because they know what we are asking, and they wanted to win tonight. But overall, I’m quite pleased.”

The Zips (6-2-3 overall, 1-0-1 MAC), ranked No. 20 in this week’s United Soccer Coaches national poll, took the lead on a Dyson Clapier goal just 10:38 into the match.

It marked the first time this season that the Falcons allowed a first-half goal, but the Falcons did not back down.

“They got their goal, and they came in waves,” Nichols said. “It looked like it could have been that way again this year. They scored a pretty good goal there, but we got ourselves in the game, and I’m proud.”

BGSU 6-foot-3 junior defender Joey Akpunonu (Toledo St. John’s) said the Falcons just had to keep their composure after the Zips got on the board early in the game.

“We just make sure we get in the huddle and kind of talk things out and make sure that same mistake doesn’t happen again,” Akpunonu said.

“Then, we just keep on playing. Like our coach says, it’s a process throughout the game 90 minutes. It’s not 10.

“So, once we gave up a goal we knew we had to keep pressing them, keep getting in good spots and eventually our chance will come.”

But the Falcons (2-4-4, 0-1-1 MAC) equalized with just under 20 minutes remaining in the match.

BGSU senior midfielder Jensen Lukacsko, heading down the right side of the field, played a ball into the path of senior forward Eli Slope near the end line.

For a few seconds, it appeared that an Akron defender would beat Shope to the ball, or let it roll over the line for a goal kick.

But Shope got to the ball first, poking it toward the center of the six-yard box. Shaffer quickly redirected it into the net with a one-time finish. It is Shaffer’s second goal this season, both coming at Cochrane Stadium.

Akpunonu said the Falcons were feeling good at that moment.

“It was great energy. At that point we felt we were on them a little bit, so we felt we could get another one, especially after the red card (against Akron), but we’ll just bounce back next time and make sure we get a win,” Akpunonu said.

Akpunonu said there is a lot of pressure when playing some of the best teams in the nation, especially when they are MAC opponents.

“We always talk about the connections we have with each other, make sure we are relying on each other. That builds a foundation and pushes us forward, and that is how we deal with pressure,” Akpunonu said.

The Falcons had a narrow 10-9 advantage in total shot attempts, while Akron had a 4-3 lead in shots on goal. The Zips had a 2-1 margin in corner kicks.

BGSU goalkeeper Brendan Graves (Perrysburg), who had three saves, and the Falcons have not allowed more than one goal in a game this season. BGSU has surrendered a total of seven goals in 10 matches.

The Falcons head to the Windy City to take on the MAC’s newest member, Chicago State, Thursday. That contest will begin at 8 p.m. at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep.

Then, BGSU will face both the Zips and Cougars for a second time. The Falcons will play at Akron on Oct. 17 before hosting CSU on Oct. 21.

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