Oakland 0, Wright State 1: Men’s soccer misses chances in second half


Nowshin Chowdhury

Oakland’s Austin Ricci (19) and Wright State’s Tristan Lyle (7) battle it out at the Oakland Soccer Field Saturday night as they reach for the ball. Ricci put up four shots total during the game and Lyle attempted one.

If you walked in at halftime of Saturday night’s Oakland men’s soccer game, didn’t look at the scoreboard, and viewed the final 45 minutes, you’d have thought Oakland won. But, already down 1-0, the latently dominant Golden Grizzlies (4-6-0, 3-2-0) lost on Oct. 8 by the same score to Wright State (7-4-1, 3-1-1), which was incredibly vigorous in the first half.

The Raiders’ sole goal came in the 41st minute, but it very well could have come any time, as Wright State’s attack ate up a good portion of the first 45 minutes. Wright State’s Peguy Ngatcha advanced quickly, hurdled an Oakland player, dribbled right and launched the ball, scoring a fierce one from 20 yards out. Eric Lynch got the assist. It was Ngatcha’s ninth goal of the season.

“Disappointed with the effort in the first half,” Oakland head coach Eric Pogue said. “We’re a better team than we showed there.”

Getting the whole team to defend is important, Oakland captain Nick Strack said. He knew the Raiders would be aggressive.

“[They’re a] team full of seniors, juniors, a lot of upperclassmen,” Strack said. “The last two years, we’ve been in the [Horizon League] finals with them, so they really got it out for us.”

Oakland got it together at the half.

“We pushed [Nebosja Popovic] up top, pushed [Austin] Ricci underneath, put [Alex] Serwatka back out wide just to kind of mix some stuff up,” Pogue said.

After a high shot by the Raiders in the 47th minute, Oakland’s Wilfred Williams made his way up the left side in the 48th minute and crossed the ball, but Wright State’s Jake Stovall stopped it.

The Raiders followed up with a promising drive that was cut short by an offside call.

In the 56th minute, Serwatka passed to Ricci, who ripped a low shot wide left. It was one of the best attempts of the night.

The 58th minute held another well-executed attack for the Golden Grizzlies. A lofted ball set up Popovic for a shot, which he launched high. It all started with Serwatka up the left side again.

In the 74th, Williams took it all the way up to the top of the box, checked for passes and shot it. The ball nailed the right post and the crowd acted like somebody’d been shot.  Williams didn’t look too happy, either.

AJ Shaw shot it wide left in the 78th from 20 feet away from the top right side.

None of the chances stuck.

“We’ve just got to be a little more critical in the final third of their half,” Shaw said. “Build-up was real well, we just couldn’t get that final pass to get through. Just getting unlucky with a couple of the shots.”

Williams had the only shot on goal for the Golden Grizzlies. Ricci led with four shots, followed by Williams with three, Popovic and Serwatka with two and Shaw with one.

Liam McQueenie spent 90 minutes in goal, made one save and let one in.

Wright State got five corners to Oakland’s two.

The freshman Shaw was quite visible at the end of this game.

“I used to coach him back in the Vardar days when he was 10 years old,” Pogue said. “He was that exact same guy. Tons of energy, hard-working guy, just buzzes up and down the line.”

Three more years of that is looking pretty good, he said. Oakland has nine true freshmen altogether.

“I think the future’s bright,” Pogue said.