Grizzlies lose in spring soccer championship

In the first ever Michigan College Tournament of Champions, the Golden Grizzlies lost the championship game to Western Michigan 3-1 on Saturday.

Oakland’s men’s soccer team concluded the spring schedule with a match against the Broncos at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Mich. The Golden Grizzlies earned their way to the championship game by defeating Saginaw Valley State, 4-2, on March 24 and earning a draw against Michigan State, 1-1, on March 28. Due to goal differential and goals scored tiebreakers, Oakland was able to secure a place in the championship game against Western Michigan.

The Broncos came out with more intensity than the Golden Grizzlies as they scored two goals within the game’s first fifteen minutes. A long strike from Western Michigan’s Greg Timmer and a goal from Cam Jensen off of a rebound put Oakland in a 2-0 deficit early. Head coach Eric Pogue thought his team was not ready to play and made some crucial errors early in the game.

“We had two individual mistakes costing us goals and when you get down two goals fifteen minutes into the game, it’s tough,” Pogue said.

Oakland did tighten up defensively for the rest of the first half and coach Pogue gave credit to his team for the way they battled back late in the first half and into the second. The two teams played evenly throughout the second half, as late goals by each team made it a 3-1 final. Midfielder Raphael Reynolds scored the lone Golden Grizzly goal and talked about the experience the freshmen gained in the championship game.

“We have a lot of young guys coming up and we had a great senior class who just left,” Reynolds said. “I think we just have to get back on the saddle and the young guys have to step it up.”

Coming off of a very successful season that included a Horizon League regular season and tournament championship along with a NCAA Tournament victory against Kentucky, the Golden Grizzlies have high expectations for themselves next year. They lost some crucial seniors from last year’s team, but coach Pogue and the rest of the coaching staff hope that this spring taught their players some valuable lessons.

“Every team is a new team and the difference between good and not good is very slim,” Pogue said. “You got to bring it every individual day and I think this showed us that nothing is promised to us next year and we are going to have to go out there and earn it all again.”