Men’s soccer narrowly defeats BGSU Falcons

Falcons close lead to no avail in season opener

The Northern Kentucky University men’s soccer team survived a scare on the road Saturday night, as they opened their 2018 season with a 3-2 win over the Bowling Green State University Falcons.

“Tonight was a very good win for us,” head coach Stu Riddle said. “They have a very good opening night record and this is a very difficult place to play. There were plenty of positives and plenty of things to work on ahead of Monday and beyond.”

With 4:27 remaining, it appeared as though the Norse would walk away with an easy opening night victory.

Ahead 3-0, the Norse watched their lead evaporate after senior Falcons defender Ebenezer Ackon scored two goals within 75 seconds to cut the Norse lead down to one. With less than a minute remaining, the Falcons won a late throw-in, but the ball popped in the air after junior goalkeeper Anthony Mwembia got a head on it and the Norse defense was able to clear it to hold onto the victory.

The Norse were led by freshmen duo Alex Grieve and Alex Willis, both of whom scored their first career goals. Senior goalkeeper Jim Barkei played all 90 minutes and faced 13 shots on the night.

Willis gave the Norse a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute after Rikard Lindqvist hit a right side cross that was deflected by the Falcons and rolled right to Willis for the score eight yards out.

Grieve would then double the Norse advantage in the 62nd minute after catching Mwembia out of the goal mouth during a Falcon clearing attempt and fire a low shot into the left corner of the net. In the 86th minute, Connor Probert put the Norse ahead 3-0, after working a give-and-go with Grieve and blasted a shot into the net just below the crossbar.

The Falcons quickly responded after Ackon deposited his first goal to the far side of the netting with an assist from Tate Robertson. The duo wasn’t finished, though. Though Akon left the game shortly after his first goal, he would return a minute later to score his second goal, 16 seconds after returning to the match. This time, Ackon’s header came off of Robertson’s corner kick to cut the lead down to one with 3:12 remaining.

With under two minutes left to go, the Falcons came within reach, but a header shot by Chris Brennan went wide.

Coming into the match, Bowling Green had won seven straight home openers. The Norse finished with six attempts on goal compared to the Falcons’ two.

The Norse will play their first home match of the year on Monday, Aug. 27 as they take on the Golden Griffins from Canisius. Kickoff is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. at NKU Soccer Stadium and will be broadcast on ESPN+.