Men’s soccer loses to MSU in brutally close match

Sam Schlenner, Sports Editor

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After leading off league play with a close win against Northern Kentucky on Saturday night, Oakland men’s soccer (1-4-0, 1-0 in the Horizon League) lost 1-0 to Michigan State (4-1-0) the night of Wednesday, Sept. 15.

The game was an Oakland onslaught in front of 1,385 people in the first half. The difference came in the 53rd minute. MSU shot a corner, somebody headed it, the ball went off the crossbar and in the mess went in off an Oakland player.

“They had two men on me in the box there,” Oakland keeper Liam McQueenie said. “Unfortunately I left a little early cause I was expecting an outswinger. The ball, it came back in, and I tried to save it, but I ended up pushing it back towards the net and basically teeing it up for the goal.”

MSU kept the lead. The game finished fairly evenly, 12 shots by the Golden Grizzlies, 11 by MSU.

Nebosja Popovic and Austin Ricci led the offense with three shots each. Alex Serwatka and AJ Shaw had two.

McQueenie played all 90 minutes in the net and made three saves.

The first half saw Oakland controlling the game. Popovic and Ricci led the charge. Defender Wilfred Williams once played on the MSU side, but defended like a missile when the ball got back to Oakland territory.

The 43rd minute held a sneak peak at the second half. MSU made a full-scale assault. Nobody but the Spartan keeper played behind the center line. McQueenie made a save and abated the threat after 10 high-strung seconds.

But MSU made their last ditch effort with 10 seconds left in the half. A Spartan ended up on the ground and Nyal Higgins ended up with a yellow card. The free kick by MSU’s Connor Corrigan was blocked. He got another chance and missed it wide right. Halftime.

Then came the Spartan goal. Oakland didn’t finish any subsequent attacks.

“I think in the first half we played a good game overall,” Oakland head coach Eric Pogue said. “It’s a 50-50 game. They were able to finish their opportunity and we weren’t. I think we’ll learn from that and get prepared for an important game against Green Bay.”

“I wasn’t overly impressed [with MSU’s attack],” McQueenie said. “I think we did well defensively. To be honest, it was just luck on their part that they finally broke through.”

A couple of unforced errors on Oakland’s part helped the Spartans as well, McQueenie said.

“We created the chances, we just didn’t get a result out of them,” Popovic said. “I had a couple chances myself, a free kick a little bit back, a couple of shots in the second half. I think we created the chances and we definitely could have beaten them. It’s just, we didn’t put it in the back of the net, so we got to work on that.”

Oakland plays Green Bay at home at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

“We only got two days,” Pogue said. “Rest, recover and get ready.”