Oakland lacrosse upsets Michigan State again

When Towbey Kassa, coach of the Oakland University women’s lacrosse team, learned that his starting goalie and another player were involved in a traffic accident the day before the game and would be unable to play, he didn’t panic.

He simply called on sophomore Reanna Douglas.

With Douglas starting her first game of the year in net, the Lady Grizzlies (10-3, No. 12 Div. II) defeated the Michigan State Spartans 8-7 on Thursday night at Troy High School.

Junior Desiree Messina scored the game-winner with just 10.1 seconds left giving the Lady Grizzlies their second straight victory against MSU. Oakland won 13-10 last year in what was the third biggest upset of the 2010 Div. II season.

Still, Douglas made many key saves in the opening half to swing momentum toward the Lady Grizzlies and knew that she had to play well for the team to have a chance to win.

“Well, I kind of got thrown on the spot,” Douglas said. “At practice, I heard the unfortunate news that they had got in the car accident and knew that I had to step it up. I knew what I had to do, thought about it all night and all day, got mentally prepared and came here to play.”

The Spartans jumped out to a lead early, but the Grizzlies countered with three unanswered goals to take a 4-2 lead at halftime as their defense held strong.

After OU took a 6-3 lead with 20 minutes left, it was Michigan State’s turn to make a run and they stormed back to take a 7-6 lead with just over nine minutes left. Senior Ashley Krisfalusi scored the equalizer with 5:35 left to set up Messina’s final tally.

After the game, Kassa believed that this win was “a hundred times better than the one last year” and was quick to give plenty of praise to Douglas.

“You have a girl that hasn’t suited up in net at all, just a couple of times in practice,” Kassa said. “She played awesome and the defense helped her out big-time.”

According to Kassa, both players involved in the accident should be okay for the upcoming Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse League Conference Playoffs starting on Saturday at the University of Toledo. The Lady Grizzlies have earned the top seed, and will play Augustana in the quarterfinals.

Oakland’s tough schedule was a major factor in garnering the No. 1 seed, and Kassa believes that wins such as this one against MSU make statements heading into the playoffs.

“This sets us up playing these Div. I teams and beating them as ‘watch out, here comes Oakland’ in the playoffs,” Kassa said.

While last year was not easy for the Grizzlies as they won the conference in overtime against Aquinas, this year may be even more difficult. A possible semifinals match could await with DePaul or Dayton, and, if they make it back to the finals, a rematch against undefeated Aquinas or No. 18 ranked West Virginia.

The team’s ultimate goal has been getting back to the National Championships in Scottsdale, but it starts with winning the conference. Only the top eight teams make the field, and for Oakland to have any chance they must run the table.

Kassa believes that it is possible, but they must remain focused on their first goal, getting three wins in Toledo.

“I like our chances, but we can’t look past any team,” Kassa said. “Any team can beat any team on any given day. If we play like how we have been playing, then we can go a long way.”