Pogue: “It’s that time for Alex.”


Alex Serwatka is a Junior from Troy, Mich. He plays as midfielder for the Golden Grizzlies. 

Alex Serwatka is this year’s wildcard. At least that’s what Oakland men’s soccer head coach Eric Pogue says.

Serwatka and Pogue’s relationship as player and coach began about a decade ago, when Pogue coached him on his 10-year-old and younger team.

Although it’s a unique dynamic, it isn’t uncommon for Pogue to have either coached for or coached against his players’ teams prior to them coming to Oakland, especially if the player is from Michigan. He said it’s something that is a “big benefit” in terms of recruiting.

Early on, Pogue recognized Serwatka’s potential, and this was what ultimately made him want to bring the Troy native to Oakland’s program. The redshirt junior has found his home at Oakland as midfielder for the defending league champions.

Pogue chose to redshirt Serwatka his freshman year not only because he felt he wasn’t ready yet in terms of skill and maturity, but also because he thought he could get more from him in his fifth year than in his first year.

“I felt coach made a good decision, I wasn’t really ready to get in the games yet,” Serwatka said. “I obviously learned a lot from my teammates and I just took their advice and kept working on my game and here we are now.”

“This time next year, Alex will be playing and probably be one of the top players in the league. If he wouldn’t had been redshirted, we wouldn’t get that,” Pogue said.

“I’ve talked to [him] for a long time and he’s always had a lot of what I call potential, but for some reason over the last couple years, he hasn’t put it all together at one time. It’s that time for Alex.”

With the loss of last year’s key seniors Gavin Hoy and Joey Tinnion, who also played in the attacking part of the field, minutes have opened up for Serwatka. As someone who is always working hard to improve and is gaining confidence and maturity, he’s expected to step up and fill those minutes now.

Over the summer, Serwatka played for the Detroit Metro Stars, a club that is part of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). The team plays in the Midwest Division in the Great Lakes Conference.

He played in 10 games for the Stars, who finished ninth of 12 in the division, and led the entire team with four goals for the season. Teammates Chase Jabbori, Dean Akeel and Vittorio Sbrocca played on the team too.

In this year’s regular season opener at home against Western Illinois, Serwatka led the team to a 3-0 victory, scoring the first two goals of his college career and tallying one assist.

He was also named student-athlete of the week by the athletic department and made the College Soccer News national team of the week because of his breakout performance.

Serwatka is majoring in business marketing and wants to pursue a career in marketing with a sports team.For him, the game of soccer has made him the person he is today.

“It’s taught me a lot. It’s taught me to work hard, it’s taught me to be responsible and all those things,” Serwatka said. “I’m just very happy soccer is in my life, I don’t think I’d be here without it.”

Expectations are high for this year’s team. After last year’s stellar season, Pogue feels as though they have a target on their backs.

The goal is to repeat as league champions and head back to the NCAA tournament. With a good core of upperclassmen and “hungry, talented young players,” the program believes the goal is attainable.

“We put a really tough schedule together and are playing some of the top teams in the country to help prepare us to be successful but, you know, all we can really do is take it one game at a time,” Pogue said. “Alex will be a big part of that. We need him to stay healthy and stay sharp.”

“I’m just looking to help out the team in any way possible, whether that be starting the game or if someone’s playing better than me than I’m just going to sit out and they’re going to play,” Serwatka said.

The Golden Grizzlies return to the pitch on Sept. 12 at Dayton before opening league play on Sept. 19 at home against Milwaukee for homecoming.