Men’s soccer overcomes deficit, advances to semis

Jake Alsko

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The Oakland University men’s soccer team overcame adverse temperatures and a 1-0 deficit at home to defeat Valparaiso (5-8-5) 2-1 in the opening round of Horizon League Championship Tuesday, Nov. 12. The Golden Grizzlies will play the No. 2 seed Milwaukee in a semifinal match Friday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. in Chicago.

OU took advantage of a mistake in the Crusaders’ zone to score the game-winning goal on a Matt Rickard header in the 64th minute. Rickard, who had five points during the regular season, led the team with three shots, two of which were on target.

“I just slipped it into the goal,” Rickard said.

“The main thing is that it’s the same weather for everybody,” OU head coach Eric Pogue said. “We start the year playing in 85, 90 degree weather, and then we end up playing like this, in cold, so we’ve got to be able to play in anything.

“I think (former OU baseball coach Mark Avery) said it to me best, ‘Do you want to play in this, or do you want the next time you play a meaningful game to be next August when it’s 90?”’

Chase Jabbori sparked the comeback before the end of the first half, putting in a header off a cross-field pass from Cody Archibald to tie the game 1-1 in the 42nd minute.

Nick Suker scored first in the 33rd minute for Valpo. The Crusaders had 13 shots overall, five on target. The Grizzlies finished with 11 shots overall and five shots on target.

OU goalkeeper Sean Lewis had four saves while Valpo’s Tom Serratore posted three.

“The defense did a great job,” Lewis said. “I think other than the one little blunder in the back, I thought we were all doing very well, communicated well.

“Obviously it’s tough to have a flawless game when it’s freezing cold, but I thought we did our best, and it was good enough today.”

If it wasn’t apparent from his performance, Rickard didn’t allow the cold to dictate his play.

“I’m from England, so I adapted quite well,” Rickard said. “But it’s just something you’ve got to deal with.”

The Grizzlies’ semifinal match is Friday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. in Chicago versus Milwaukee, with UIC serving as the host for the rest of the Horizon League Championship tournament. The Panthers took the only regular season match between the two teams 2-1 Oct. 26.