Oakland upsets No. 14 Drake in men’s soccer

With the buzz of vuvuzelas in the brisk September air, the Oakland University men’s soccer team achieved something on Sunday that hadn’t happened since 2008.

It took more than the allotted 90 minutes of regulation time, but the team pulled off a thrilling 1-0 victory over No. 14-ranked Drake University at the OU Soccer Field.

The goal came just 59 seconds into the first overtime period, off a header by sophomore midfielder Johnny Dreshaj.

The victory was OU’s first win over a ranked opponent since the 2008 season, when they beat then-No. 15 Tulsa.

“That’s the best I’ve seen Oakland play in my nine years of being here, top to bottom,” said head coach Eric Pogue. “I talked to them before overtime and told them it would be a shame to get out of this game without a victory, based on how hard we played. I think it was a just reward.”

It only seemed like a matter of time before OU scored, as the Golden Grizzlies held an 11-2 edge incorner kicks and a 21-6 advantage in shots against the Bulldogs.

Several of the corner kicks almost resulted in goals, including one from sophomore Tom Catalano that nearly went in off the crossbar because of a large gust of wind.

Catalano also had a kick deflect off a defender and barely miss in the second half.

The constant pressure eventually cracked Drake’s defense, allowing Dreshaj to net the game-winner.

“I don’t know if it was by design, but the ball ended up at the top of the box, and Winston (Henderson) flicked it with the outside of his foot. I just went to goal and I had that feeling that the ball was coming to me, and just redirected it into the top corner,” Dreshaj said.

“We were banging on the door, but we just couldn’t get that final finish. It didn’t hurt our confidence, and we came into OT thinking we were going to win.”

Students that attended Sunday’s game received a free vuvuzela courtesy of OUSC. The high-pitched horn, which gained both fame and notoriety during the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg, created a new atmosphere on the OU field.

“I’ll be honest with you, I thought the fans were great, especially the atmosphere with the vuvuzelas.

“I think it gave the players energy; sometimes playing out here, it’s a little quiet,” said Pogue. “I really appreciate the fans coming out and hopefully we can get a student section going, because I think that added energy to the game.”

Following a difficult 1-0 defeat at the hands of Marshall on Friday, Oakland’s defense bounced back quickly.

Junior goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt had four saves in the game to record his first shutout of the season.

Near the end of the first half, it was clear that Drake’s players were frustrated by the stifling defense.

After Bulldogs forward Hunter Kennedy was knocked down and appeared to be in pain, OU defensemen

Konner McNamara went to help Kennedy, only to have him try and throw a punch at McNamara.

McNamara and Kennedy recieved yellow cards for the action.

The win serves as a confidence boost for OU, which still has a tough scheudle ahead.

“I think getting that first win under our belt, realizing we can play with anybody in the country on any given day, if we play the right way and with the right energy, it gives us confidence,” Pogue said.