Head Coach Eric Nichols
Eric Nichols recently completed his ninth season at the helm of the BGSU men's soccer program. Since being named the Falcons' mentor on Feb. 17, 2009, Nichols has built not just a winning team, but a successful program both on and off the pitch.
In his first nine seasons with the Falcons, Nichols has changed the culture of the program, showing steady improvement each season. He was named both the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year and the Ohio Collegiate Soccer Association (OCSA) Ohio Coach of the Year in 2016.
Nichols is only the second BGSU coach to win the MAC's C-O-Y award since the MAC began sponsoring men's soccer in 1993.
BGSU has an overall record of 69-75-25 since Nichols assumed the helm. After going 3-12-3 in his initial season, Nichols' Falcons have a winning record over the last seven years.
The Falcons had an RPI of 184 in the 2008 season, the year before Nichols arrived. Four years later, BGSU finished with an RPI of 99. And, at the conclusion of the 2014 campaign, Nichols and the Falcons were ranked 64th in the nation in the end-of-season RPI.
In August of 2015, Nichols signed a multi-year contract extension. His contract at BGSU runs through December 31, 2019.
Upon his arrival in '09, Nichols took over a team that had dropped to the bottom of the Mid-American Conference, and slowly but surely returned the BGSU men's soccer program to relevance in the MAC and the region.
Nichols has led the Falcons to a total of 39 wins over the last four seasons. He guided the 2016 BGSU team to second place in the MAC regular-season standings, the program's highest finish since the 2002 campaign. BG was undefeated in conference play for the first time since 1996.
The Falcons were ranked among the Great Lakes Region top-10 teams in every week of the 2016 season, and finished the year ranked fifth in the region.
And, BGSU has been just as successful in the classroom. In 2016, both Pat Flynn and Joe Sullivan were named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team. Flynn became the first three-time Academic All-American in BGSU men's soccer history, while Sullivan became just the third Falcon to earn Academic All-America honors twice.
BGSU was the only school with two first-team selections on the 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-America Team. And, the Falcons have had two overall selections to the team in each of the last two years. Flynn was named to the first team and Sullivan earned second-team honors in 2015, the first year BG had two players named to the team in program history.
BGSU had six CoSIDA Academic All-America Team honorees in a four-year span, as Flynn was named to the second team in 2014 while Brandon Silva earned second-team honors in 2013.
Additionally, the Falcons received the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Team Academic Award for the fifth consecutive season. The award is given to programs that have achieved a minimum team GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
Flynn earned a veritable plethora of honors on the field as well as in the classroom in 2016. He was named to the NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region Second Team, and also was chosen to that organization's Scholar All-East Region First Team and Scholar All-America Second Team.
And, Flynn and Sullivan each were named to the Ohio Collegiate Soccer Association (OCSA) Academic All-Ohio Team in 2016.
Sullivan received the Falcon Medal of Honor for the 2016-17 year. The award is given to just one male and one female student-athlete across the entire 18-sport department, who embody the essence of the qualities BGSU Athletics hold important for all student-athletes.
Additionally, Flynn was named BGSU's Male Athlete of the Year for 2016-17, while Anthony Mwembia was the department's Male Newcomer of the Year.
Mwembia was named to the College Soccer News Freshman All-America Team in '16, earning second-team honors. Mwembia and Flynn each earned All-MAC First-Team accolades in the 2016 campaign, while Sullivan, Tate Robertson and Jacob Roth all were named to the All-MAC Second Team.
The 2015 team began the year with five consecutive wins, breaking into the national rankings for the first time since 1999. The Falcons were 24th in the country in the NSCAA poll released on Sept. 8.
Additionally, Flynn was named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List in 2015, while Ryan James was a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award. Following the season, James was selected by Sporting Kansas City in the third round of the MLS SuperDraft.
Nichols and the Falcons, after losing 10 seniors off of the 2013 team,were picked to finish fifth in the six-team MAC in the 2014 campaign. But, that 2014 team put together one of the most successful seasons in the last few decades. The Falcons went 14-6-1 overall and tied for third in the MAC with a 2-2-1 league ledger.
In 2014, the Falcons finished with a winning record for the first time in 14 years, and the overall win total was the program's highest in 17 seasons. BGSU more than doubled the previous season's win total, and the Falcons advanced to the championship match of the MAC Tournament for the first time since 2003.
In the final 2014 NCAA statistics, the Falcons were ranked 30th or better in the country in eight of the 11 team categories kept by the NCAA. The BG offense finished ranked in the top-20 in total goals (14th), total points (15th) and total assists (17th), and most importantly, the Falcons were in the top 20 in winning percentage (20th).
The Falcons got off to a strong start in the fall of 2014, with a 9-2-0 record in early October. A four-match winless streak, however, included a tie and a pair of losses in MAC matches. As Halloween approached, the Brown and Orange found their margin for error nearly gone.
A non-conference win at Detroit on Oct. 29, however, was the first of three consecutive overtime victories, including a surreal win over Western Michigan that kept BG's MAC Tournament hopes alive.
That WMU match saw the Falcons fall behind with 15 minutes left in regulation, only to score the tying goal with approximately five minutes to go. In overtime, though, the Broncos were awarded a penalty kick, and a goal would end the Falcons' chances of making the league tournament.
Falcon 'keeper Ryan Heuton saved that WMU PK, however, and moments later, BG scored at the other end of Cochrane Field for an improbable come-from-behind victory.
After a win over Wright State that allowed BG to keep possession of the I-75 Cup, the Falcons picked up a road win over Northern Illinois in another must-win game, earning a berth in the league tournament.
In that league tourney, the Falcons posted a fifth-straight one-goal victory (and a fourth overtime win in that time) with another come-from-behind win. This time, the victim was West Virginia, and the Falcons advanced to the league tourney final for the first time since 2003.
In that championship game, the Brown and Orange took a second-half lead over Akron on the Zips' home pitch, but the hosts battled back for a narrow, 2-1 win. Nevertheless, the message had been sent that BG was back.
The 2014 team had just three seniors, two of whom battled injuries down the stretch. All three seniors played key roles in the Falcons' success, but Nichols and his staff got numerous contributions from the freshman, sophomore and junior classes as well.
Individually, Flynn, then a sophomore, finished the season ranked among the nation's top-10 players in no fewer than five categories. Flynn was third in the nation with six game-winning goals, and he finished fourth in the country in goals (14) and fifth in points (32). Flynn, part of the Falcons' strong tradition of players from the Naperville, Ill., area, was eighth in the nation in both goals per game and points per game in 2014.
Nichols has worked tirelessly at making Cochrane Stadium an entertaining place to be for soccer fans, as well as a difficult place to play for the road team. BGSU's attendance numbers have steadily increased during his tenure, and the Falcons have had multiple crowds of over 2,000 fill the stadium over the last few seasons, including throngs of 3,126 vs. Ohio State and 2,273 against Michigan in 2013 and 2,525 vs. the Buckeyes in the 2016 campaign.
Nichols also was instrumental in the Cochrane Stadium lights project, as the Falcons now play nearly all of their matches under the lights, enhancing an already-entertaining game-day atmosphere.
The Falcons posted a 6-7-6 overall record in 2013, going 2-2-2 in MAC play while again playing a strong non-league schedule. The '13 team scored the most goals (25) since 2003, and allowed the fewest goals (17) since the '01 campaign. The Falcons then proceeded to score a total of 38 goals in 2014.
The '12 campaign saw the Falcons post eight wins against another in a long line of tough schedules for Nichols-coached teams. BGSU's 8-9-3 overall mark represented the team's most wins and highest winning percentage since 2003. The Brown and Orange posted two wins and a tie against teams that advanced to the NCAA Championships.
BGSU went 3-3-1 in MAC play that fall, earning the fourth seed in the eight-team conference and a bid to the league tournament. The Falcons fell on the road to the nation's top-ranked team in the MAC Tournament's semifinal round.
The Falcons went undefeated in overtime in 2012, and BG recaptured the I-75 Cup with a victory over Wright State. BGSU had two All-MAC First-Team selections for the first time since 2002.
The 2011 season saw the Falcons post a 7-8-3 overall record. The seven wins, the program's highest total since the 2003 season, included a season-opening victory over ninth-ranked U-M before a crowd of over 2,100 at Cochrane Field. The Brown and Orange went 4-2-1 at Cochrane, and BGSU's defense posted a total of seven shutouts on the year, the program's most in a decade.
In 2010, his second season at the helm, Nichols guided the Brown and Orange to an overall mark of 6-9-3 and a MAC ledger of 3-3-0. BGSU, after being picked to place sixth in the league in the preseason coaches poll, tied for third in the final regular-season standings and earned the third seed for the MAC Tournament. With just four seniors on the 26-man roster in 2010, Nichols and the Falcons doubled the team's overall win total from the previous fall.
That '10 roster featured 12 newcomers, including 11 true freshmen. At least nine of those 12 players started two or more matches. That young team was ranked 117th of 204 schools in the final NCAA RPI, after going five years without having a ranking better than 152.
That 2010 team came away with a result (a win or a tie) 50 percent of the time, after the Falcons did so in just 33.3% of the 2009 matches.
Nichols guided his initial Falcon team to a 3-12-3 mark and a 2-3-1 MAC record. That 2009 club narrowly missed out on a top-four conference finish and a berth in the league tournament.
Nichols came to Bowling Green after spending the 2008 season as assistant coach at Davidson College. He also served as recruiting coordinator under head coach Matt Spear.
Prior to his stint at Davidson, Nichols was the head men's soccer coach at Ohio Dominican University for four seasons (2004-07). Under his guidance, the Panthers recorded a 59-22-2 (.711) overall mark, including a final ranking of fourth in 2007. That team advanced all the way to the quarterfinals of the NAIA National Tournament.
Nichols guided his final ODU team to a 19-3-0 overall record and was named the NSCAA/NAIA Midwest Region Coach of the Year and Ohio Coach of the Year in 2007. He was named the American Mideast Conference South Division Coach of the Year in three of his four seasons with the Panthers.
Prior to heading to ODU, Nichols served as an assistant coach at Ohio Wesleyan University under Jay Martin. During Nichols' four years there, the Battling Bishops compiled a mark of 74-14-3, won four conference championships and advanced to a pair of NCAA Regional Championships and one Final Four.
Along with his collegiate coaching experience, Nichols was the head coach of the Columbus Crew's U18 U.S. Soccer Academy team for the 2007-08 season, and also has experience coaching state and region squads in the Olympic Development Program (ODP). He also has a NSCAA Premier Diploma and a U.S. Soccer "A" License.
Nichols played collegiately at Ohio State, and played five years of professional soccer for the Columbus Xoggz and Indiana Blast of the USISL and the Columbus Invaders of the NPSL.
He is only the fifth head coach in the storied history of the BGSU men’s soccer program, which enters its 53rd season in 2017. He joins Mickey Cochrane (1965-77), the late Gary Palmisano (1978-92, 1994), Mel Mahler (1993, 1995-2003) and Fred Thompson (2004-08) on that list.
Nichols earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from OSU in 2000. He has taken graduate courses at BGSU.
Nichols and his wife, Marianne, reside in Bowling Green with their three children, sons Kalen (17) and Braden (8) and daughter Jordan (14).