Women’s soccer downed in Horizon League semifinals

Oakland women’s soccer’s (9-10-1, 5-4-0) championship aspirations were dashed when they fell 1-0 to regular season-No. 1 Milwaukee (13-4-2, 8-0-0) during the Horizon League Championship semifinal on Thursday, Nov. 3, at Engelmann Stadium in Milwaukee. The Golden Grizzlies managed to hold on until the 85th minute, when Milwaukee’s Anna Smalley, assisted by Lourdes Onwuemeka, scored from 12 yards out.

“[Milwaukee] took their chance really well today, a really great shot from outside the box,” Oakland head coach Mags Saurin said in a GrizzVision interview. “[There was] nothing our goalkeeper could do about it. Everyone else playing at this level is tough, and today was another tough one.”

Oakland goalkeeper Alison Holland played the full 90 minutes and made 10 saves over the duration of the game. Emma Voelker, Lauren Bos and Sydney Duggan each had one shot on goal.

Milwaukee commanded the ball with tenacity from the onset of the game.

The first half saw Milwaukee outshoot Oakland 7-1, with the imbalance continuing into the second. Ultimately, the Panthers concluded the game with a total of 19 shots to the Golden Grizzlies’ eight.

“It’s tough,” Saurin said. “Every game was tough, and tonight Milwaukee was. Obviously they won the regular season and are the deserved winners.”

Milwaukee subdued nearly every offensive attempt by Oakland during the first half. The Panthers continued their offensive pressure, assaulting the net consistently.

Milwaukee’s Kelly Manksi ripped the first shot of the game wide in the second minute. The Panthers returned in the seventh minute with a shot by Cassidy Blanchard that was saved by Holland.

Holland recorded five saves in each half. After the initial Milwaukee offensive, Oakland attempted to penetrate the Panthers’ defensive preparations, to no avail.

The next string of Milwaukee chances began in the 23rd minute when Callie O’Donnell propelled a shot toward Oakland’s net and Holland saved it. O’Donnell was succeeded in the 24th by Smalley, whose shot Holland also saved.

Holland denied two more Milwaukee shots in the 34th and 37th minutes before Oakland ended the first half.

Unlike the quarterfinal match against Valparaiso, Oakland was unable to rally against its opponent. Instead, Milwaukee boosted its scoring chances, bombarding Holland with 12 shots in the second.

Although Oakland generated seven shots in the latter half, with Vlad Gurovski leading with three, Milwaukee’s defense held. The Golden Grizzlies just could not answer Milwaukee’s 85th-minute goal with the five minutes that remained.

“I felt [that in] the second half, we were able to cause them some problems, but we couldn’t convert,” Saurin said.

Despite the loss, she commended her athletes and the resolution they displayed.

“I would like to thank everyone for their efforts during the season,” Saurin said. “The girls gave it everything.”

Saurin concluded with a final display of sportsmanship regarding the championship game.

“I just want to congratulate [Milwaukee] and wish them all the very best and NKU the best as they fight on Saturday for the championship,” she said.