Oakland men’s soccer suffers first home loss to MSU

By Postie Editors

Oakland University men’s soccer entered Wednesday against Michigan State University undefeated at home with a 6-0 record.

On a warm night in the middle of October, that streak came to an end as the visiting Spartans defeated the Golden Grizzlies 1-0, stunning a raucous crowd of just over 1,000 that included the Oakland dance team, the men’s and women’s basketball teams along with the men’s swim team in their traditional game day Speedos in support of their fellow student-athletes.

Michigan State made the trip to Oakland’s Soccer Field possessing a 4-5-1 record against non-conference opponents.

“We knew coming in that this was going to be a tough team,” said Michigan State Head Coach Damon Rensing. “Coach Pogue does a really good job with those guys and we expected to be in for a fight.”

Following a win against conference rival Kansas City, OU came into the game ranked second in the nation in total points and fourth in scoring offense, total goals and assists.

“We really didn’t change much in our game plan,” Rensing said. “With them having one of the best offenses in the country, playing in the Big Ten we face a lot of scoring offenses so making the adjustment to their style wasn’t a big issue.”

OU did have some close calls on several missed opportunities, with shots on goal during the first half where they outshot Michigan State 7-3, including an attempt by Forward Kyle Bethel within 10 yards that was blocked by MSU’s Goalkeeper Zach Bennett who had three saves.

Bethel led Oakland with four shots attempts.

“I think we came out early a little flat, we weren’t at our best and they responded well to it,” said Oakland Men’s Soccer Team Head Coach Eric Pogue. “We’ve played a ton of games lately, the team looked a bit tired and playing a team like Michigan State they are going to play you tough and we as a team have to come out with our best game.”

Michigan State didn’t let up with their pressure in the second half as they outshot Oakland 10-6, including the only score which came during the 71st minute when MSU forward Domenic Barone scored on a header off a long throw by defender Ryan Thelen, who leads the team in assists.

“We just blew a cover in the box and it resulted in a header he got open for,” said Oakland goalkeeper Scott Messer, who had recorded three saves to bring his total to 45 on the year.  “We just need to get organized in the box a little quicker to prevent the same thing from happening again.”

Things got overly physical and testy late during the 74th minute when a red card was issued to the opponent’s team bench after Oakland’s Raphael Reynolds received a yellow card on a tackle attempt that resulted in an injury to the Spartans’ Blake Skamiera, who did not return to play.

“I think both teams were looking to match each other’s physicality and you never want to let your opponent to get the best of you, our play just wasn’t good enough at the end of the day,” Bethel said.

With the loss, OU is 9-5 as they play their final three games against Summit League rivals Fort Wayne and Omaha on the road before they return home to finish the season against Eastern Illinois on Senior Night, November 3rd.

“Our goal has been to win the Summit League title and with us sitting in a good position now we travel to face a tough IPFW team in a hostile environment,” Pogue said.  “If we expect to be considered one of the best teams in the country we have to play better against teams like this.”

Kick-off for the game against Fort Wayne is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday in Fort Wayne, Indiana.