Bowling Green State University men’s soccer standout Joey Akpunonu has been named to the Top Drawer Soccer national team of the week.
Akpunonu, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound junior defender, earns the honor for the first time in his Falcon career.
Akpunonu, a native of Toledo (St. John’s Jesuit), played key roles at both ends of the pitch as the Falcons picked up results in a pair of games vs. Big Ten opponents last week.
The junior defender anchored a BGSU back line that allowed just one goal in 180 minutes as the Falcons battled to a scoreless draw at Michigan and a 1-1 deadlock vs. Michigan State.
In Ann Arbor, he helped hold Michigan to five total shots, including just one on goal.
Then, against Michigan State, Akpunonu helped the Falcons outshoot the Spartans by a 27-10 count, and he scored BGSU’s lone goal on a second-half penalty kick.
Akpunonu has played every second of every match at center back, as the Falcons have allowed just three goals, including one on a penalty kick, in five matches.
Akpunonu was also named the Mid-American Conference’s Male Scholar-Athlete of the Week.
In the classroom, Akpunonu has a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade-point average as a biology major.
The Falcons, 0-2-3 on the young season, head to Colorado for a Saturday matchup vs. Air Force. First touch will be at 8 p.m.
BGSU will meet another group of Falcons who are off to a similar start to the season on Saturday night.
Air Force is also looking for win number one, as those Falcons are 0-3-2 on the year. All five matches took place on the road, with four coming against nationally-ranked teams.
BGSU 6-0 senior goalkeeper Brendan Graves (Perrysburg) and the BGSU back line have been stellar in goal this season so far.
Graves has allowed just three goals – including one on a PK – in 450 minutes of action. Graves has 13 saves and leads the Mid-American Conference with a goals-against average of 0.6 this season.
He now has a career GAA of 1.23 and four shutouts in 12 career starts.
Air Force dropped 2-1 decisions at No. 24 North Carolina and No. 15 Wake Forest, then played No. 25 Missouri State to a scoreless draw.
Most recently, Air Force battled No. 3 Washington to a 1-1 tie in Seattle. Thaddaeus Dewing leads the team with six points, and has scored three of the Falcons’ four goals this fall.
John Byszewski has played all 450 minutes in goal, and has 22 saves, one shutout and a 1.60 GAA. Last season, the Falcons went 10-8-1 overall and 8-3 in Western Athletic Conference play.
BGSU and Air Force are meeting for the first time in men’s soccer. The Falcons have played only two total matches against schools currently in the WAC, with a pair of losses to UNLV.
Then, BGSU returns home for matches against Oakland (Sept. 23) and Western Michigan (Sept. 27), with the latter game being the Mid-American Conference opener.
More national accolades
A pair of Bowling Green State University women’s soccer standouts have also been recognized.
BGSU senior midfielder Mackenzie Reuber has been named to the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week, while senior forward Kennedy White has been chosen to the College Soccer News Team of the Week.
White, a native of Canton, Michigan (Plymouth), scored the first two goals of the Falcons’ lone match last week, a 3-0 win on the road vs. Missouri Valley Conference preseason favorite Valparaiso on Sept. 11.
White scored roughly five minutes into each half, heading home a corner kick in the first half for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
In the second half, she headed a Valpo corner kick out of the box to begin a BG counterattack, then raced the length of the field to take a pass from junior forward Lacee Bethea and score the Falcons’ second goal.
It was the first multiple-goal game of White’s collegiate career, and she has now scored the game-winning goal in back-to-back BGSU games. White leads the Falcons with three goals and six points this fall.
Reuber, a native of Macomb, Michigan (Macomb Lutheran North), contributed at both ends of the pitch in the Falcons’ win at Valparaiso.
The senior anchored a BGSU defense that held the Beacons to just one shot on goal and two total shots on the day.
At the other end of the field, she had the primary assist on the game-winning goal, as she played a corner kick to the far post that found an open White, who headed it home for the first goal of the match.
The shutout was the Falcons’ second in as many matches.
The Falcons, now 2-2-1, wrap up the non-conference schedule tonight at Xavier. First touch is set for 6 p.m. in Cincinnati.
The Falcons return home to open the Mid-American Conference portion of the schedule vs. Toledo on Thursday.