OU men’s soccer duels in spring doubleheader

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The Oakland University men’s soccer team fell by a score of 2-1 to the defending national champion Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the Ultimate Soccer Arena in Pontiac, Mich. The match was part of the sixth annual College Challenge, a series of exhibition matches between teams in the region. 

Oakland found itself behind early in the first half on a break by Notre Dame junior forward Vince Cicciarelli. OU had several minutes of sustained pressure, but gave up a goal from just outside the box that had Grizzly head coach Eric Pogue accusing Notre Dame of being offsides. 

The Grizzlies generated minor pressure at times but failed to even the score in the first half and took a 1-0 deficit into halftime.

“The first 15 minutes or so we were a little out of sorts,” Pogue said. “We gave up the early goal and then I think we got the game under control.”

Pogue settled his team down at halftime and knew it had an opportunity to even the score.

“I told them to stay calm and keep the pressure up,” he said. “We kept good possession and did a good job at locking them down.”

Oakland sophomore Matt Dudley netted the equalizer in the first minute of the second half on a header delivered from in front of the net. Constant pressure by the Grizzlies created many more scoring chances throughout the game, though none were fruitful.

With just five seconds remaining, Notre Dame broke into the Oakland zone and created a scoring chance that wound up being the game-winner. Cicciarelli delivered a ball through the keeper’s box where it deflected off OU sophomore Raphael Reynolds for an own goal.

“We controlled the game the second half but we made an unlucky mistake that gave them the game,” Pogue said. “Other than that, I’m proud of the effort. I think we deserved more than what we got but that’s what happens. You get punished for mistakes against good teams.”

The Grizzlies had a quick turnaround when they took on Xavier in a doubleheader. The two teams would tie at a score of 1-1, with OU sophomore Matt Rickard netting the team’s lone goal.

Pogue said he used the second match as a chance for some of his younger players to get playing time.

The doubleheader was Oakland’s third and fourth games in its spring schedule. The Grizzlies travel to Ann Arbor to take on the University of Michigan on Friday. They wrap up their spring competition at the Ultimate Soccer Arena against Northwestern on Saturday, April 5 at 6:30 p.m.