Oakland 0 Valpo 1: Men’s soccer drops to 3-1-0 in league in physical road game

Sam Schlenner, Sports Editor

Despite a frenetic performance on the stats sheet, Oakland men’s soccer (4-5-0, 3-1-0) lost 1-0 to Valparaiso (5-2-2, 3-0-1) on the road Saturday, Oct. 1. The Golden Grizzlies and the Crusaders were the only two remaining undefeated teams in the Horizon League before this game.

Valpo showed up quick and scored in the fourth minute off a bending shot by Kendan Anderson from the top left of the box. Ramone Howell got the assist.

“We dug ourselves a hole there right out of the gate,” Oakland head coach Eric Pogue said in a GrizzVision interview. “That’s always difficult against a talented team . . . Then it just turned into a battle royale.”

Oakland put up 16 shots to Valpo’s 12. Austin Ricci had six shots. Nebojsa Popovic and AJ Shaw got three each. All three players had two shots on goal. Oakland outgunned Valpo on corners: nine to the Crusaders’ two.

Oakland’s Zach Walker made two saves in his 90 minutes in the net, letting in one goal. Valpo’s Nico Campbell played 90 minutes, making five saves. Oakland and Valpo each had one team save, making for three Oakland saves altogether and six from the Crusaders.

The stats sheet was equally impressive in the more boisterous areas, as well.

Oakland put up 15 fouls and Valpo 19, a total of 34. Eight cautions and ejections were issued in the game, including a red card on Oakland associate head coach Stephen Gorton, which was issued to the team, and a red card to Oakland’s Willie Maddox for his second yellow card. Valpo got four yellow cards, Oakland had two.

“It was a chippy game,” Pogue said. “I think that just shows the intensity of the rivalry between the two programs. There’s a lot of respect there, but both teams want to win.”

Valpo went on the offensive after the goal and got called offside in the seventh minute. Omar Lawrence of the Crusaders was given a yellow card in the twelfth minute.

Oakland threatened, netting a corner which Popovic put up in the 14th minute. Dean Akeel then attempted a shot which went high in the 17th minute.

After a couple of Oakland fouls, Valpo’s Isaiah Madrid put up a corner in the 21st minute to no avail. Oakland substituted AJ Shaw for Alex Serwatka in the 23rd minute.

A Valpo advance was halted in the 24th minute by an offside call.

In the 30th minute, Popovic tried to put something on the scoreboard, but Campbell saved it. After a couple of Valpo substitutions, Oakland’s Austin Ricci fired a couple of shots, one that was blocked, one that went high.

The Crusaders followed up with two shots in the 40th minute. The one by Anderson went wide and the one by Madrid was saved by Zach Walker.

Popovic attempted another shot in the 43rd minute, but it was blocked. He shot a corner twenty seconds later, but no Golden Grizzly goal resulted.

Valpo got another shot off before the half. Zach Walker saved it.

“I was really proud of their effort,” Pogue said. “Besides the first probably 10 or 15 minutes of the first half, I thought we settled down, got into a little bit of the rhythm, and really in the second half, had chance after chance and really created a number of opportunities. But we just couldn’t sneak it in.”

Freshman AJ Shaw came alive in the second half, putting up three shots, two on goal, including one in the 77th minute.

“I’m sure we’re probably going to see them come playoff time,” Pogue said. “It’s always a one-goal game against those guys and I don’t think it’s going to be any different.”

Oakland still leads the all-time series against Valpo 8-3-3. Nevertheless:

“This leaves a little bit of a sour taste in our mouth here,” Pogue said.

But it could be worse.

“If we didn’t play well, I’d be disappointed, but I thought overall we played well other than digging ourselves a hole,” Pogue said. “We’ll learn from that, and that’ll hopefully help us come tournament time.”

Oakland plays Wright State at home at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 8. It’s a blackout.