Men’s soccer continues to look bright in spring season

Finn+Jurak+kicks+the+ball+out+to+his+teammates+against+SVSU+on+March+26.

Stanley Tu

Finn Jurak kicks the ball out to his teammates against SVSU on March 26.

Payton Bucki, Features Editor

The Oakland University Golden Grizzlies men’s soccer team defeated the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals by a score of 4-0 on Saturday, March 26 at the UWM Sports Complex in Pontiac, MI.

From the start, the Golden Grizzlies looked bright…literally. The Oakland team entered the game wearing highlighter green uniforms. 

However, OU’s uniforms were not the only standout aspect of the night. The Golden Grizzlies’ athletic performance was even more striking than their jerseys.

Early on, possession of the ball went back and forth between both teams. Each side saw multiple goal attempts, with no success. 

Freshman Kai Garvey drew the crowd’s attention rather quickly in the first half with his impressive footwork. Garvey led the Oakland offense as he repeatedly maneuvered the ball within a scoring range.

After a pass from midfield, Garvey swiftly dodged Cardinal defenders to score a short range goal. This play put the Golden Grizzlies at a 1-0 lead.

Now at a disadvantage, the Cardinals seemed determined to regain control of the game. On the offensive side, the SVSU team attempted to score multiple times.

Finn Jurak, Oakland’s goalie, refused to allow the Cardinals room to even up the game. Just before the end of the first half, Jurak blocked a solid kick from Saginaw’s Lachlan Hepburn.

The Golden Grizzlies entered halftime with a one-goal lead. Despite his team’s advantage, Oakland Head Coach Eric Pogue felt as if it was still anyone’s game.

“I would say both teams were relatively evenly matched in the first half,” said Pogue.

As the second half of the game progressed, the Cardinals seemed to improve offensively. The Saginaw team began to look toward the goal with hope.

Suddenly, the Cardinals’ momentum died. After a foul involving excessive force was called on Saginaw, one of their starter players was given a red card—grounds for automatic ejection for the remainder of the game.

“When SVSU lost a player due to a red card, that was a big turning point in the game,” said Pogue.

Now down a player, Saginaw’s spirits seemed to burn out. Shortly after the red card was given, Darek Panucci scored another goal for the Golden Grizzlies.

The Cardinals continued to play a respectable game. Brady Walker performed a header near Oakland’s net, barely missing the goal.

The Golden Grizzlies offense continued to challenge the Cardinals. With fifteen minutes left in the game, Mohammad Jamal Issa scored another Oakland goal, bringing his team’s lead to 3-0.

As the game drew to a close, the Golden Grizzlies offense continued to remain fierce. With mere minutes left, the Cardinals lazily passed the ball in front of their own goal.

With Saginaw’s wide open net in sight, Oakland’s Zach Townsend took his chance. The freshman swiftly stole the ball and scored a close goal.

Townsend’s goal cemented the 4-0 win for the Golden Grizzlies as the late-night matchup came to a close.

Pogue was pleased with his team’s performance against the competitive Saginaw team. He expressed the team’s outlook for the remainder of their spring season.

“Spring season allows our coaches to watch players we didn’t get to see much during the fall,” Pogue said. “Ultimately, we want to remain a strong, competitive team.”

Oakland will play their next game at the UWM Sports Complex against the Aquinas College St. Bernards at 2 p.m. on April 2. This game will surely be a competitive match-up for the Golden Grizzlies, as the St. Bernards emerged from regular fall season play with a winning record.