Falcon soccer falls to Broncos, 2-0

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Bowling Green State University men’s soccer team, playing a man down for nearly two-thirds of Thursday afternoon’s match, fell to host Western Michigan University, 2-0.

At the WMU Soccer Complex, the Broncos (13-2-1 overall, 5-1-1 Mid-American Conference) got on the board via a penalty kick early in the second half, then doubled the lead just over five minutes later.

Goalkeeper Brendan Graves (Perrysburg) made four saves for the Falcons (5-5-5, 3-2-2 MAC), while Hunter Morse was credited with seven stops for the Broncos.

The loss was the Falcons’ first multiple-goal setback in nearly 12 months.

WMU had a 19-12 lead in total shot attempts and a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks. BGSU had a 7-6 lead in shots on goal.

With WMU’s two second-half goals – one on a PK – the Falcons allowed more than one goal in a match for the first time since last year’s NCAA Championships second-round contest at Indiana.

The Falcons had their chances to score. The Falcons were active early, as Sergi Martinez fired a hard shot from distance that went over the bar just 16 seconds into the match.

Kale Nichols and the Falcons had a chance in the 16th minute. Martinez crossed the ball from the right side. Nichols settled the pass and hit a low shot toward the far post, but WMU goalkeeper Hunter Morse was able to make a diving stop of his own.

Midway through the period, Martinez was tripped up after a long run toward the 18. The ball rolled to Kyle Cusimano, who put his shot just wide of the far post.

Several minutes later, Jonathan Robinson was carded as he tripped Eli Shope from behind. Martinez played the ensuing free kick, and his short diagonal ball found the head of Nichols, who put a shot on frame. But again, Morse was there to make the save.

With seven minutes left in the opening half, Joey Akpunonu took a free kick from midfield and put the ball on goal, but Morse was able to grab the long shot out of the air.

In the 68th minute, an Alberto Anaya corner kick was knocked out of the penalty area. Shope put a hard shot on frame, but Morse was able to make the save.

The 82nd minute saw the Falcons put the ball into the box, but a shot by Trace Terry went just wide of the near post.

Graves had some big saves, too. In the 10th minute, WMU’s Dylan Sing lifted the ball to Charlie Sharp on the six-yard line. Sharp’s quick header was on frame, but BGSU Graves made a diving save.

However, Cusimano was shown a red card in the 32nd minute after a challenge at midfield, forcing the Falcons to play with 10 men.

Five minutes into the second half, the Broncos’ Carson Hodgson hit a shot from inside the box, but Amer Dedic blocked it out for a corner kick.

Off of that kick, however, another Hodgson shot was blocked, but a handball call on the Falcons meant that a penalty kick was awarded to the hosts.

Daniel Nimick took that PK for the Broncos, and converted to give WMU a 1-0 lead at the 50:32 mark.

Graves made a great save in the 55th minute, tipping Sharp’s header over the crossbar, and the Falcons successfully dealt with the ensuing corner kick.

However, just under two minutes later, the Broncos doubled the lead. Mike Melaragni scored on a shot from just outside the box after a turnover near midfield.

With 15 minutes to go, Nimick got an open header off of a left-side cross, but Graves made another stop.

The Falcons close the regular-season schedule on Sunday hosting Northern Illinois. That match begins at 6 p.m. at Cochrane Stadium.