Men’s soccer loses 2-1, sets attendance record vs UM

On a chilly, dark October night, 2,344 fans filled the hill at the soccer field, setting the attendance record for a men’s soccer game. In a close match, the Golden Grizzlies fell to the visiting University of Michigan Wolverines, 2-1.

It was announced at halftime that the previous record of around 2,100 fans has been surpassed, making the “Fill the Hill” promotion a successful one.

“I think the marketing concept of ‘Fill the Hill’ was really cool,” Head Coach Eric Pogue said. “We reached out to high schools, clubs, club sports, fraternities and sororities on campus. We’re all in this together.”

The bleachers and hill were packed as the Wolverines, the No. 14 team in the nation, were visiting Rochester. Fans from both sides showed up to watch a game that was neck and neck for the first 44 minutes.

“At one stage I glanced back and was like ‘Holy Cow’,” Pogue said. “It was impressive. I don’t think as this university expands and becomes more residential-based, it isn’t too crazy to expect 1,500-2,000 people per game.”

With a full crowd watching, both teams played well defensively to begin the match. Michigan held the ball more, dominating the possession game, but Oakland was playing strong defense. Goalkeeper Sullivan Lauderdale dove to his left to stop a header in the top left corner with 21 minutes gone, keeping the game notched at 0-0.

As the PA announcer gave the one-minute warning, Michigan was pushing the ball onto the Oakland side of the field. One of the Wolverine midfielders had the ball in the box and was knocked to the ground as he and the Oakland defender were battling. A penalty was called, and a penalty kick was awarded.

The shot just got by Lauderdale, and Michigan took a 1-0 lead with 24 seconds remaining in the first half. This back and forth battle was something Pogue expected.

“I thought our first half performance was great,” Pogue said. “I told my team ‘let’s battle and compete.’ We wanted to give these fans what they came for. The timing of the goal was unfortunate, but we weren’t too concerned. We knew we played a good first half and our game plan was good.”

Michigan carried that momentum into the second half, quickly getting a second goal off a deflection in the 58th minute. Despite the 2-0 deficit, the Golden Grizzlies were still on the attack.

After 20 more minutes of scoreless play, Oakland found some space up the field to attack. Forward Napoleon Outlaw III hit forward Nebojsa Popovic in stride and Popovic put a ball in the bottom left corner of the net with 10 minutes remaining.

“The whole goal was to just get one point and get back in the game,” Pogue said. “If you don’t get the one and try too hard to get a goal down 2-0, you might give up a third and get completely out of the game. We stayed in our system and worked. We got the one goal, but it was a bit too late.”

Michigan was able to keep the Golden Grizzly offense from scoring once more, and the match ended with the opposite score it did the year before, 2-1 Michigan.

The men’s soccer team is back in action again on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 4 p.m. as they host Horizon League rival Northern Kentucky University.