Seniors lead men’s soccer team, Falcons score four in exhibition win

Anthony+Grant+dribbles+the+ball+up+field+during+the+exhibition+match+against+the+Cincinnati+Bearcats+this+past+Saturday.+BG+kicks+off+their+regular+season+Friday+against+the+Malone+Pioneers.

Anthony Grant dribbles the ball up field during the exhibition match against the Cincinnati Bearcats this past Saturday. BG kicks off their regular season Friday against the Malone Pioneers.

“Culture” is the word Head Coach Eric Nichols used when speaking about the key to the team’s improvement during the past few years. The Falcons have improved their wins each season, including an eight-win season this past year giving them the most wins since the 2003 season.

“It’s been guys holding everyone to a higher standard and a higher expectation, that’s just our team culture,” Nichols said.

The Falcons began their fall camp Aug. 15 and have been working all offseason to prepare for another season under Nichols. With so many returning starters and upperclassmen familiar with each other the freshmen seemed to come in and make a big impression very early, according to goalkeeper Michael Wiest.

“We know a few of them can come in and make difference to our team and they are adjusting well to the college level,” Wiest said.

With six seniors returning, the team may be able to balance out the young players with experienced players who have been on the team for the long road of improvement. The three captains for this year as voted on by the teammates will be Joey D’Agostino, Brandon Silva and Michael Wiest. The return of former Falcon Zach Lemke to the coaching staff will give them some more experience as well.

“We couldn’t have asked for such better captains this year,” Nichols said. “With nine seniors the tricky part is that any of them could have been a captain, but that feeds into our culture because everyone is a leader and helping each other get better.”

To help the team relax after fall camp ended, the coaching staff took the team on a canoeing trip for a few days in Walhounding, Ohio. That trip was made for them to get away from soccer for a little bit and take some time to recharge, Nichols said.

“The trip definitely brought the team together,” Wiest said. “It was fun and it was nice to do something different for a bit.”

The team’s first chance to see some in-game practice before the season was at its exhibition game Saturday, Aug. 24 against Cincinnati. The Falcons beat Cincinnati 4-2 on two second half goals from freshmen Dan Looker and Joe Sullivan. Midfielder Danny Baraldi and forward Anthony Grant also scored for the Falcons.

The game had a regular season feel, and according to the coaches and players, that’s what they work toward every game.

“We treat every game like a championship game,” senior captain Brandon Silva said. “Whether it’s Cincinnati, Akron in September or West Virginia in November, everything is a championship game for us.”

This season the Falcons plan to continue the improvement they have had during the past few years. It has improved from five wins in 2010 to eight wins in 2012 with a near win at Ohio State in 2011 and two wins against Michigan in 2011 and 2012.

“We want to win every game we play, but that doesn’t mean we think we are going to win 19 games,” Nichols said. “We want to approach every game like it’s the only one that matters … I think when we walk on the field this year we will be sending a message with the way we carry ourselves.”

The Falcons will open their regular season Friday at home against Malone University at 7 p.m. Malone is coming off a six-win year and will look to leave BG with a win to start off the season.

“We are ready for the season to start, we have been busting our butts this offseason,” Baraldi said. “We are ready to stop kicking each other and start kicking other people.”