Women’s soccer falls short of championship gold in loss to Milwaukee


Jose Juarez, Oakland University Athletics

The Oakland women’s soccer team in a huddle.

The Golden Grizzlies women’s soccer team becomes the fourth different team in as many years to fall to the Milwaukee Panthers in the Horizon League Championship. 

With the Panthers being the only team to defeat the Golden Grizzlies in conference play this season, the Grizzlies were looking to avenge their loss in the most important game of the season and take home the championship, but the Panthers would continue their second run of dominance over the sport unimpeded and foil their plans. 

The game started off aggressively with both teams in good spirits, albeit nervous and hoping for the outcome to be in their favor. Continuous passes and dribbles were aimed for the out of bounds line, and other avoidable mistakes continued to be made as both teams tried to get their feet underneath them. 

Neither team was fully in control of the flow, as they both tried to exert their own pressure on both sides of the field. Breaking the monotonous back-and-forth, Milwaukee struck first to make the score 1-0 after taking advantage of an unmarked opportunity that appeared during the collapse of a play. 

This score forced the Golden Grizzlies into desperation mode for the remainder of the game, as they pushed ahead frantically in search of a score equalizer. The Panthers’ defense stood strong in the face of the Grizzlies’ push, hanging onto their one point lead by a thread as the game entered its second half. 

Despite the Panthers holding a one-point lead, the game played up to that point had been very even. The Golden Grizzlies were fighting and working to try and surpass the lead and the Panthers were fighting just as hard trying to protect it. 

The Golden Grizzlies got a perfect opportunity to tie the game up after being awarded a free kick near the goal in response to a foul, but Panthers’ goalie Elaina LaMacchia came out of the exchange victorious as she pushed the shot wide of the goal with a jumping save.

In the same play, she protected the goal and block a shot again on an amazing second effort, proving that her Goalkeeper of the Year Award was no fluke. After shutting the door on this opportunity, the Panthers would then put the final nail in the coffin of the Golden Grizzlies’ hopes with another goal to push the score to 2-0 with 15 minutes left to play. 

The Golden Grizzlies wouldn’t lose a single scrap of their fighting spirit, even as the final minutes of the clock continued to tick down. Stopping the near-miracle comeback at every turn, Milwaukee kept their near-half decade long run of dominance going strong as they complete their season of unbeaten conference play with a dominant shutout of the Golden Grizzlies, winning 2-0. 

Ending their season with heartbreak amid a year of rapid improvement, the Golden Grizzlies will now look toward a period of growth in the offseason.