Men’s soccer looks to repeat

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Coming into the 2015 season, the Oakland men’s soccer team has the target on its back as defending Horizon League champions.

Last year, the Golden Grizzlies finished with a record of 10-7-3 overall.

Oakland defeated large Division I teams like Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State in the regular season. They also beat Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Due to the large-scale victories, bigger schools have noticed Oakland’s potential, which has made scheduling tough.

This year, the team has a veteran-laden roster with nine seniors who will likely play a significant role.

Some of the players returning to the team are defenseman Jacob Vanderlaan, forward and Horizon League tournament MVP Gerald Ben, all-league forward/midfielder Shawn Claud-Lawson, all-league midfield/forward Matt Dudley and midfielder Raphael Reynolds.

Oakland also lost several key players last year: all-league forward Joey Tinnion, all-league second team defender Cody Archibald, all-tournament defender John Deleon, defender Dylan Schauder, all-tournament midfielder Gavin Hoy and midfielder Matt DeLang.

With these players gone, the younger players who watched the team win the league and in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Kentucky last year will have increased roles on the team.

“Younger players are going to have to step this year,” head coach Eric Pogue said. “Pressure is a privilege.”

Pressure is a privilege is the mantra that will be used for this year. It originally came from Billie Jean King talking to the 1999 Women’s World Cup winning team and was reiterated during this summer’s Women’s World Cup.

Oakland expects to repeat as Horizon League champions – something they haven’t done since joining the league.

Oakland kicks of their season with two exhibition games against two strong teams.  Akron is ranked No. 26 and Louisville No.17 in the NCAA. The first game is at Akron on Aug. 18. 

The Black and Gold will open league play against Milwaukee play on Sep. 19.