Women’s soccer prepares for MAC

Brandon Loe and Brandon Loe

Just five months after winning their third consecutive Mid-American Conference tournament championship. Bowling Green Women’s Soccer is getting ready to head back into conference play to try and defend their championship once again.

The Falcons have appeared in the last four MAC championship games, winning in 2018, 2019 and the shortened spring season in 2021. During this dominant MAC reign they have also won three consecutive regular season titles.

According to the MAC Preseason poll, the Falcons were picked to finish second in the regular season standings behind the Buffalo Bulls. Although picked second for the regular season standings, the Falcons are the Tournament favorites once again.

Jimmy Walker returns as the Falcons Head coach for his second season. Scott Rissler and Erik Van Der Meulen are also back with the Falcons again this season. The only change to the coaching staff this season is the addition of Assistant Coach Taylor Clarke following the departure of Dani Johnson.

As for the Falcons on the field, after last season the Falcons departures consisted of Sophia Barnes and Nikhita Jacob. Becky Moss and Sarah Allen left the program via transfer. Outside of these four players, the Falcons returned 25 of 29 players including all eleven starters. The incoming Falcons for 2021 consist of eight players (six freshmen and two transfers).

Prior to conference play the Falcons have played two preseason exhibitions and seven non-conference games. They rounded out their non-conference schedule at a record of 1-4-2 after a draw in their last match against 17th ranked Xavier. 

“We wanted to play the toughest non-conference schedule possible and I think tonight was a really good reminder of just how good we are,” Coach Walker said following the 1-1 draw against Xavier.

The Falcons non-conference schedule was a true test as they played four Big Ten opponents, an ACC opponent, and the best team in the Big East. The lone win in non-conference play came in dominating fashion in a 6-0 route of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies.

One key return for the Falcons is 6th year member Rachel Muller, after the Covid-19 pandemic created an extra year of eligibility. Following the spring season, and a third championship ring for Muller, she was unsure if she would be back for her extra season. It wasn’t until July, and a phone call from Jimmy Walker, that Muller decided to lace up the cleats for one more season.

“Over the summer I really struggled with the idea of not being a student-athlete anymore. He called me a couple weeks before the season started and said that the team needed some center backs and asked me if I wanted to come back, I evaluated where I was at and decided that it was the right decision for me to return,’ Muller said

The program also returns sisters Nikki and Katie Cox. Nikki, the oldest of the two, will serve as a captain with the team for her third season. She was picked as the Top Drawer Soccer preseason number one player in the conference and leads active Falcon players in career goals, assists and points. Katie has seen success in the brown and orange as well having tallied four career game winning goals, including the MAC Tournament Championship just earlier this calendar year. Katie talked about her confidence in big situations like the MAC Championship.

“It stems from my teammates, everyone is out trying their best and pushing each other, and that pushes me even further towards being my best,” she said.

She also talked about what it is like to have one more season with her older sister Nikki, following Nikki’s decision to use her extra year.

“This last season was really unexpected, this will be our third year together at this level, and we’ve been playing together for such a long time, it creates a really good chemistry and we play well together,” she said.

The Falcons have dominated conference play over the past handful of years with a record of 30-3-2 against MAC opponents since 2018. The coaching staff as well as the players feel they have the talent and drive to bring another MAC Championship back to Bowling Green and to win the programs first NCAA Tournament game.

The Falcons will start conference play on Thursday, September 23rd, when they travel to Kalamazoo to face off with the Western Michigan Broncos. Kickoff for the match is set for 4:00 p.m. EST and can be viewed on Bronco All-Access.