After falling in the Mid-American Conference Championship to West Virginia 1-0, Bowling Green men’s soccer had time to look back on a stellar season and come to the conclusion that they exceeded expectations. Finishing fourth in the MAC after being predicted to finish fifth may not seem like a huge step, but their 13 wins on the season were the most they’ve collected since 2014.
“I’m obviously heartbroken, but what a season,” head coach Eric Nichols said after the championship match. “What a great group of guys. I love practice and I love everything about soccer, but what I’m going to miss is being with this group of guys. Whether it’s dinner or a team meeting or whatever. I’m so happy with some of the memories that they’re going to take away.”
The dedication Nichols’ squad had to the program was rewarded with a historic six representatives on the All-MAC team, the most BGSU has seen since the introduction of the accolades. Goaltender Anthony Mwembia and defender Achille Robin made first-team, while midfielders Zach Buescher, Chris Sullivan and Charlie Maciejewski were voted to the second team.
“To this day and even after this result I can tell you we’re the tightest team in the MAC. Our relationships are stronger than any other team,” Maciejewski said.
Maciejewski along with fellow seniors Mwembia, Chris Brennan, Amandy Ayima and Tom Wrobel will depart after graduation, but three of the Falcons’ top five scorers from this season will be returning. Sullivan, a junior midfielder, ranked fifth in the MAC in goals (7) and first in the MAC in assists (9) this year. Sophomores Kale Nichols and Matt Walters played in all 21 games for the Falcons and combined for 15 points and will be tasked with moving the program forward.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our young guys, our leadership, all throughout,” Maciejewski said. “Talk about guys who love each other. I would do anything for these guys and I know it’s likewise for them as well. I look back with a lot of pride on this year and I know that this program is in a good place moving forward.”
As a coach, Nichols sees things differently. Bowling Green reached the MAC tournament for the sixth time since Nichols was hired in 2009, and made it all the way to the championship game for the second time. Yet, they have been unable to get over the MAC hump in order to reach the NCAA tournament.
“I agree with Charlie we’re in a good place, but we’ve got our work cut out for us,” he said. “Replacing the players is going to be hard. But in replacing the character and the leadership of this group, I do trust they’ve done a great job of passing that legacy on … They’ve been such a great model for us.”