The Oakland University Men’s Soccer team put on a strong display to defeat the defending Summit League Champions Western Illinois University, 5-1.
Coming off an extra time win against Duquesne University in the previous match-up, the Golden Grizzlies got off to a slow start Saturday, not attempting a shot for the first 15 minutes before kicking things into gear against the Fighting Leathernecks.
“I thought we seemed a little out of sorts the first 15-20 minutes of the game. After that, we seemed to kick it into gear the last 25 minutes and get some scores that put us in control of the game,” said Oakland Head Coach Eric Pogue.
The slow start proved to be frustrating at times with things getting testy during the 26th minute of the game, when the OU bench was issued a yellow card after some questionable plays took place on the field. The penalty may have been the spark the team needed when OU seemed to have kicked things up a notch.
“When coach starts yelling, it gets us going a little bit,” said junior goalkeeper Scott Messer. “He was looking for a yellow card on Western Illinois and we didn’t get it so it really fired us up to go after it.”
Freshman forward Matt Dudley scored OU’s first goal during the 30th minute on a combination header with the assist coming from senior Kyle Bethel who recorded his Summit League leading sixth assist of the year. The goal was Dudley’s second of the year with the first coming in the previous game that proved to be the game winner in extra time.
“The first few games I wasn’t able to score and I wasn’t too happy about that, but once I got my first one it’s starting to come easier and helps create a rhythm for me,” Dudley said.
Ranked 15th in scoring offense in the NCAA, this game proved to be a coming out party for the Golden Grizzlies reserves, playing a huge role on offense led by sophomore forward Joey Tinnion and senior midfielder Jeff Cheslik, combining for three goals.
“It felt great, coach has been preaching productivity to me all season and he really challenged me to score and be productive and I came out and got a couple scores to help the team out,” Tinnion said.
Tinnion scored his first goal of the year during the 43rd minute of play on a hard hit long range shot off an assist by midfielder Shawn Claud Lawson.
He then followed that up with finish on the edge during the 75th minute on an assist by Matt DeLang. Cheslik scored his second goal of the year on header off a cross from junior defender Lucas Diener.
“We always look to come in and step up when our number is called,” Cheslik said. “That’s our thing to come in and be the next guy up to provide a spark to the team when needed so there is no drop.”
Entering the match against Western Illinois, OU comes in ranked 14th in shutout percentage. Oakland locked down on defense the rest of the way after ending the first half with three goals within 15 minutes. Bethel led the way for OU, coming out early and often with a physical style of play on both sides of the ball.
“Kyle is such a great player, he’s so strong he tends to get a lot of attention and he handles it well and helps our team defense in a big way,” Pogue said.
With the victory, the Golden Grizzlies pushed their record to 6-3 and will play the University of Detroit Mercy Wednesday in Detroit at 3 p.m.