Men’s Soccer season ends vs sixth-seeded Milwaukee Panthers

Michael Pearce, Editor-In-Chief

As the bright lights exposed the breath of everyone present on Monday, Nov. 5, the men’s soccer team took on the team that ended their 2018 season, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers. Hoping to get revenge, the Golden Grizzlies were unable to find the equalizer, losing 1-0.

The loss ended Oakland’s season, as they failed to advance to the next round of the Horizon League Championship. Despite the somber mood of those who played their last match on Oakland grass, they were still proud. Four-year senior forward Travis Harrington has seen two Horizon League championships and was prideful even in defeat. 

“We always try to be realistic and not overly optimistic, and we fancied ourselves on winning,” Harrington said. “Obviously you can only control so much, but I’m so proud of these boys tonight. It’s been a pleasure for these four years. I’m just grateful for a chance to even play college soccer.”

The first half was dominated by the Golden Grizzlies, but they were unable to convert on any chances at a goal. It seemed like every five minutes Oakland had a scoring opportunity that was nullified by either good defense or an errant shot.

After 45 minutes of tough competition, the scoreboard remained 0-0. With a shot at the Horizon League semi-finals at stake, both teams needed a goal to avoid a golden goal situation.

Shortly into the second half, Milwaukee was able to connect on a goal that goalkeeper Sullivan Lauderdale had little chance at stopping. After that goal, the Panthers played very conservative defense, trying to cling onto their one point lead.

“Once they scored that goal, I feel like they kind of sat back,” Harrington said. “We had more possession, but it was difficult to break them down. We had our chances, but just weren’t able to find the back of the net tonight.”

Oakland remained on the attack for the rest of the second half, but were unable to get past the Panthers’ defense.

Midfielder Dylan Borczak had a good look in the 73rd minute, but the Milwaukee goalkeeper made a diving save, a header in the 80th minute was sent the other direction by a flying Milwaukee defender’s head and forward Nebosja Popovic was denied a good look in the 83rd minute of play.

After 35 minutes of aggressive offense, the Golden Grizzlies had a corner kick with three seconds left and a chance to equalize the match. The ball was deflected out of the box, and the Panthers stormed the field, advancing to the Horizon League semi-finals.

Despite the season-ending loss on their home field, Head Coach Eric Pogue was proud of his players for a season where they won nine Horizon League matches.

“We had some fantastic wins this season,” Pogue said. “Our four seniors really helped rebuild this team, I’m just disappointed that this had to happen to them. They might not live to fight another day, and for this to happen on our field was unfortunate.”

Seniors such as Harrington and midfielder Jimmy Todd are players who have won multiple Horizon League championships with the Golden Grizzlies, but have now played their last match as a member of the Black and Gold.

“These seniors are the last guys leaving the field, and it’s kind of an empty feeling,” Pogue said. “But I’m just proud of them for winning some championships with us and then helping us come out the other end, spring-boarding us into the future. I’m forever indebted to them for that.”