Oakland Soccer Players Win Title with Flint City Bucks

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Oakland Soccer Players Win Title with Flint City Bucks

Three Oakland University soccer players win a national championship with the Flint City Bucks of the USL League 2.

Three Oakland University soccer players win a national championship with the Flint City Bucks of the USL League 2.

Courtesy of MLive

Three Oakland University soccer players win a national championship with the Flint City Bucks of the USL League 2.

Courtesy of MLive

Courtesy of MLive

Three Oakland University soccer players win a national championship with the Flint City Bucks of the USL League 2.

Michael Pearce, Sports Editor

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This off-season, multiple Golden Grizzlies kept playing soccer while classes were out, playing for the Flint City Bucks of the USL League 2.

The Bucks went on to win the national championship, beating Reading FC in overtime 1-0. The title winning team had Spencer Nolff, Dylan Borczak and Elliot Bentley, three Oakland University students who kept improving, playing against other D1 athletes.

“Playing in the off-season keeps you sharp,” Nolff said. “It keeps you fit and keeps your mentality strong. You don’t have breaks so it keeps you strong to keep getting touches on the ball.”

Nolff was excited to play in Flint, which is 11 miles away from his hometown of Grand Blanc. At Grand Blanc High School, he was a part of a team that went undefeated in the regular season. Playing professional soccer close to home was an experience he was eager to have.

“It was awesome to see so many people from my area come and support,” Nolff said. “It’s huge also for the city of Flint, and to see a lot of people I knew there was amazing.”

This was Borczak’s first season at the USL League 2 level. He saw significant regular season minutes and played in three playoff games en route to the championship.

Borczak saw consistent action for the first time for Oakland in 2018, and said he and others on the team saw improvement in him over the summer. This is something he hopes to carry into the fall with the Golden Grizzlies.

“Winning the championship was mind-blowing honestly,” Borczak said. “I didn’t expect to win, to be honest. I don’t think many other people expected us to win, but we pulled it out, somehow.”

Coming into the season, players expected to contend for a title with the Bucks, but as the season progressed and injuries took place, the championship odds seemed lower than at first. The team was on the verge of missing the postseason and survived a scare when they forced penalty kicks with 10 seconds remaining in their first playoff game.

“At the beginning of the year, I thought we had the best team in the league,” Nolff said. “A couple injuries happened and the national championship didn’t seem as realistic, but it always stayed in the back of our heads.”

This was the first season for the Bucks playing in Flint at Atwood Stadium. The franchise used to be located in Pontiac. When the owner, Dan Duggan, moved the team, he promised the city of Flint a title.

The team won three national titles while in Pontiac, so the franchise has a history of success at the national level.

“The Bucks are a very storied team and every year they get the quality of players to compete for a national championship,” Nolff said.

For the first season in Flint, the team had sizable crowds. The home opener had a packed stadium reaching around 6,000 spectators.

“The first game of the year against Detroit, there were 6,000 people there, which is the most I’ve ever played in front of,” Borczak said. “In the semifinals and finals there was 6,000-7,000 there as well. It was great to have the city of Flint support us.”

The Golden Grizzlies soccer team returns to its home turf on Saturday, Sept. 14 to play its first Horizon League match against the Cleveland State Vikings at 7 p.m.