Golden Grizzlies fall to Spartans in second round of NCAA tournament

The Golden Grizzlies’ men’s soccer season came to an end in East Lansing today as they fell to the Michigan State Spartans in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

In front of a mostly Spartan but also loyal Golden Grizzly crowd, Oakland was unable to pull off a second straight upset in the NCAA tournament. After beating the University of Kentucky in Lexington on Thursday night, Oakland came into Sunday’s match with not only momentum but also confidence knowing that they already beat the Spartans just a few weeks ago.

Oakland head coach Eric Pogue said that they knew this was going to be a different game going in since it is the postseason and it was on their field, but thought his guys played excellent throughout the match.

“Soccer is a game of chances and today Michigan State finished with one more chance than us. I thought for large stretches of the game we played really well and controlled a lot of the play,” said Pogue. “It’s disappointing because we have high expectations for ourselves, but I could not be prouder of the guys’ effort.”

The Spartans scored the lone goal of the match in the 66th minute off a corner kick headed in by MSU’s Zach Carroll. Oakland outshot Michigan State 16 to 14, but both teams recorded only six shots on goal.

 The Golden Grizzlies had their chances early as senior forward Joey Tinnion was denied a goal after a spectacular save was made by the Spartan goalie, Zach Bennett.

Tinnion described the play as he thought he broke the 0-0 tie in the first half.

“I was just trying to get scrappy in the box and get the ball down,” he said. “I couldn’t look at the net so I just kind of swung for it and the keeper was able to make a really nice save on it.”

Later in the first half, Oakland junior forward and 2014 Horizon League MVP Gerald Ben had a great opportunity as his shot from 25 yards out hit the crossbar. The Golden Grizzlies had a couple of scoring chances late in the second half, but the stingy Spartan defense turned out to be too much.

Oakland finished the season with a record of 10-7-3 and won the first-ever Horizon League championship for the Golden Grizzlies. This was the first NCCA tournament appearance for Oakland since 2010 and was only the second time in the Division I era that Oakland advanced to the second round.