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After upsetting West Virginia, Falcons drop title game to Akron

Nearly three months ago the BG men’s soccer team was beginning its 2014 season with minimal outside expectations. Now, 21 games later, the team finished its storied season.

Picked to finish fifth of six teams in the Mid-American Conference and miss out on the MAC tournament, the Falcons started the season 6-1 and had the nations leading scorer.

The team went on to win eight more games and earn a spot in the MAC tournament in which they defeated the 35th ranked and two-seed West Virginia in the opening semifinal round.

Having lost to the Mountaineers 2-1 earlier in the season, the Falcons displayed their resilience one more time by getting a 3-2 victory in overtime. Their fifth overtime win on the season.

“This team has a lot of belief, a lot of belief in each other,” said head coach Eric Nichols. “We didn’t come here just to be participants; we came here to win the tournament and nothing’s changed.”

Pat Flynn opened the scoring in the 34th minute with his team-leading 14th goal for the season.

However, West Virginia answered with two quick goals to open the second half.

With their backs up against the wall, Jacob Roth took and converted a penalty kick with 8:39 remaining in regulation. The goal tied the game at 2-2.

Scoreless over the final minutes, the game went to overtime where Max Auden received a pass from Flynn that allowed him push one past the Mountaineer goalie just 59 seconds into the period.

The golden goal gave BG the win and moved them into the MAC championship game.

“It’s just the semifinal. We still got another game we’re looking forward to on Sunday,” said midfielder Max Auden.

Waiting on the other semifinal game to finish, not knowing who they were to play, the team understood that either team would present a tough challenge.

“The MAC is a brutal conference,” Nichols said. “It’s certainly not going to be easy, whoever we see.”

Two days later against 27th ranked, one-seed and host school Akron the Falcons looked to keep their season alive once again.

Outshooting the Falcons 13-3 in the first half, the Zips maintained possession for the majority of the first 45 minutes.

The team was definitely on its heels, Nichols said.

However, the BG defense managed to keep Akron off the scoreboard for a 0-0 halftime score.

Then, 20 minutes into the second half, Jacob Roth put a free kick chance into the back of the net near the right post from about 60 yards out to break the scoreless tie.

The lead lasted just 28 seconds before the Zips got a penalty in the Falcons’ box resulting in a penalty kick chance. Adam Najem converted the opportunity and tied the game at 1-1.

Moments later, in the 79th minute, Akron pushed in another goal off of a rebound to give them a 2-1 lead.

Despite some looks at the goal, the Falcons were unable to get one more shot past Akron goalie Jake Fenlason, causing their season to come to a close.

“I thought we put in a good effort and we ran into a really good Akron team,” Nichols said. “We came here to win the tournament and we knew in order to do that we were going to have to beat some very good teams.”

The Falcons were unable to get the last win against Akron, but it didn’t stop them from having one of the better seasons in BG history.

Now, despite the loss, the team is excited about moving forward.

“In that final game, really coming close enough to where we could taste the championship, it’s going to be motivating moving forward,” Nichols said.

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