Six members of the Bowling Green State University men's soccer program have been honored by the Mid-American Conference. Eric Nichols has been named the Gary V. Palmisano Coach of the Year, while senior Pat Flynn and freshman Anthony Mwembia were chosen to the All-MAC First Team.
Seniors Jacob Roth and Joe Sullivan and sophomore Tate Robertson made the All-MAC Second Team. The All-MAC Team, along with the specialty award winners, was announced on Thursday morning (Nov. 10) by the conference office.
Nichols earns coach-of-the-year honors for the first time. The award is named after the late Gary Palmisano, who was a BGSU men's soccer player, assistant coach and head coach.
Nichols is only the second BGSU coach to win the award since the MAC began sponsoring men's soccer in 1993. Mel Mahler won the C-O-Y award in both 1996 and 2002.
The Falcons put two players on the all-league first team for the first time in four years, since Danny Baraldi and Anthony Grant were similarly honored in 2012.
Mwembia is just the second freshman in school history, and the first in 22 years, to be named to the All-MAC First Team. Jason Began was selected to the all-conference team in 1994.
Flynn earns all-conference honors for the third time in as many years as a Falcon. He was voted to the all-league second team in both 2014 and '15 before earning first-team accolades this season.
Roth picks up all-conference honors for the second time as a Falcon, having also been named to the second team in 2014. Both Robertson and Sullivan earn all-league recognition for the first time in their respective careers.
Flynn, a native of Naperville, Ill. (Central), leads the Falcons in scoring with 14 points this season to date. He is tied for the team lead with five goals, and has moved into the BGSU career top-10 in both goals and points. Flynn currently has 28 goals as a Falcon, ranking seventh in school history. And, in just his third year with the team, he is tied for eighth at BG with 68 points. Flynn led the team in scoring in both 2014 and '15, and he is fourth in school history with nine career game-winning goals at BGSU. He ranks among the NCAA's active career leaders in both goals per game and points per game.
Mwembia, who hails from Toulouse, France, has played all but one of the Falcons' 18 matches in goal in his first season. On the year, he has 64 saves, a goals-against average of just 0.66 and a saves percentage of .842. Mwembia leads the MAC in both saves percentage and GAA, ranking among the top-20 in the nation in both categories. He finished MAC regular-season play with a GAA of 0.53 and a saves pct. of .857, again leading all conference 'keepers in the latter category and ranking second in GAA. Mwembia's eight shutouts this season are the most by a BGSU 'keeper since 2013, and no Falcon has had more since BGSU Hall-of-Famer Scott Vallow kept 10 clean sheets in 1998.
Robertson, a native of Springfield, Ohio (Catholic Central), has started all 18 matches this season, and has five points on a goal and three assists. Robertson played a key role in the Falcons' 2-2 draw with Akron in the second-to-last match of the regular season, with a goal and an assist en route to MAC Player-of-the-Week honors. He has played in 36 of BGSU's 37 matches since his arrival on campus, starting 35. Robertson has eight career points on a pair of goals and four assists.
Roth, a Cleveland native (St. Ignatius), has eight points on the season, on a goal and a BG-best six assists. Roth has helped the Falcon defense post eight shutouts this season. At the other end of the field, his lone goal proved to be the game-winning goal, against Wright State, and he also has had an assist on no fewer than five game-winners this fall to date. Roth, after playing sparingly as a freshman, moved into the lineup in his sophomore season and has started every match over the last three years. He has played in 64 career matches, making 59 starts as a Falcon, and enters the weekend with 40 points on 11 goals and 18 assists at BG.
Sullivan, a Naperville, Ill., product (North), currently ranks third on the team in scoring, with 11 points. His four goals include the game-winning tally against Marshall, and he also has three assists to rank fourth on the Falcons. Sullivan leads all current Falcons in matches played -- having seen action in 76 of the Falcons' 77 contests since arriving at BG -- and matches started (63). Sullivan recently reached the 50-point mark for his BGSU career, and has 17 career goals and 16 assists. He is tied for fifth in program history with eight career game-winning goals.
Nichols guided the Falcons to a second-place finish in the MAC regular-season standings, the program's highest finish since the 2002 campaign. BGSU was undefeated in conference play for the first time since 1996. Nichols, in his eighth season with the Falcons, took over a BG team that was at the bottom of the MAC, and has slowly but surely changed the culture of the program. He currently has a record of 62-65-24 at the BGSU helm, but has posted a winning record over the last seven years. In the last three seasons, the Falcons have an overall mark of 32-20-6. BG has been ranked among the Great Lakes Region top-10 teams in all 11 weeks of the 2016 season, and the Falcons are currently fifth in the region.
The Falcons are 9-5-4 overall, and BGSU finished Mid-American Conference play with a 2-0-3 league ledger. BG finished second in the conference, the program's best showing since the 2002 season. The Falcons, seeded second for the MAC Tournament, will face third-seeded Buffalo on Friday (Nov. 11) at 4:00 p.m. in semifinal-round action in Akron, Ohio.