Oakland 0, Belmont 2: Men’s soccer outshoots the Bruins but gets ousted


Ian Levinson

Chase Jabbori had 3 of Oakland’s total 23 shots during the game.

Oakland University men’s soccer (5-8-0, 4-3-0) fell 2-0 to Belmont University (2-11-3, 1-4-2) on Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Oakland Soccer Field. Oakland is fourth in the Horizon League standings, while Belmont is ninth out of the ten teams.

Oakland outnumbered Belmont in shots, 23-5, but the Golden Grizzlies just could not connect with the net. Austin Ricci led Oakland with seven shots, while Chase Jabbori, AJ Shaw and Wilfred Williams recorded three shots each. Oakland also led Belmont in corner kicks, 9-4.

An offside call in the third minute interrupted Belmont’s momentum early in the game, but two corner kicks provided new opportunities for the Bruins. Oakland defended the net, and after Belmont got a series of fouls in the sixth minute, the Golden Grizzlies went on the offensive.

Ricci ripped the first shot of the game wide from close on the left wing. Nebojsa Popovic quickly followed in the 18th minute with a shot from the close right wing that went high.

After the teams traded fouls, Oakland convened on Belmont’s net once again. This time, it was Jabbori and Ricci who sent shots barreling toward the net in the 22nd and 25th minutes, but Belmont’s defense held and blocked the shots.

Belmont regained possession of the ball and got a corner kick in the 27th minute, and the Bruins began pressing the Golden Grizzlies.

Belmont’s Jack Driscoll, assisted by Adriano Balani, scored the first goal of the game and his second of the season in the 28th minute. Driscoll took a pass in the top of the circle and beat Oakland goalkeeper Liam McQueenie with a shot from eight yards out.

The teams continued brawling for the ball, but Oakland gained the upper hand in the 35th minute when Ricci got off a shot that was blocked from close in the right wing. The Golden Grizzlies sustained their presence in Belmont’s territory.

A corner kick from Popovic put the ball in front of the net, where Shaw executed a shot that was blocked. Just under a minute later, Ricci unleashed a shot that flew high.

Despite concerted efforts, Oakland went into halftime down 1-0 to Belmont.

The Golden Grizzlies returned from the intermission with the intention to expand their offensive efforts. Although Oakland surpassed Belmont in shots 15-3 in the second half, the Golden Grizzlies still had trouble netting a goal.

Play mimicked that of the first half, but the outcome of the match was solidified in Belmont’s favor when Eli Crognale, assisted by Elliot Jones, scored his first goal of the season in the 84th minute. Crognale’s shot avoided deflection, coming from 13 yards out in the far left wing.

Oakland scrambled to answer as time ran out, but ultimately Belmont came out on top.

“I think going down [in the first half] really rattled us, and from there we were on edge,” McQueenie said.  

Williams was quick to acknowledge Belmont’s tenacity.

“We talked about it in the locker room that this team had nothing to lose,” Williams said. “They’re at the bottom of the league and they were just playing their hearts out. That’s one thing we didn’t do tonight in the beginning: coming out and playing strong.”

Williams also stressed the importance of the remaining games.

“This is a lesson learned for us, and we’re on our heels right now. Every game matters and every win matters,” he said.

Oakland head coach Eric Pogue agreed with his players.

“We knew we were going to get a very strong Belmont team,” Pogue said. “They were creating chances and battling hard all the time. When you go down 1-0, I think that goal just keeps getting smaller, smaller and smaller.”