Youth and Inexperience Prevails as Oakland Claims Share of Mid-Con Championship

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Inge Pedersen was tabbed first team
All-Mid-Continent Conference in 2001

The Oakland University men’s soccer team repeated as Mid-Con regular-season champions in the 2001 season, despite a roster of youth and inexperience.   With inexperience and youth hindering the Golden Grizzlies chances to excel in the 2001 season, experience and veteran leadership propelled OU into the post-season. Oakland was defeated in the Mid-Con tourney by UMKC, but it wasn't a quick and easy game.   The Golden Grizzlies and Kangaroos fought through four overtimes and OU was beaten in the shootout, 4-3. OU ended it’s back-to-back Mid-Con championship season with a 8-6-3 record and was 3-2 in conference play.

Four Golden Grizzlies earned all-conference honors: seniors Inge Pedersen and Mike Skolnik, sophomore Anders Vollen and freshman Philip Braathen. Pedersen was named to the All-Mid-Con first team, while Braathen, Skolnik and Vollen earned second team honors.

Oakland started out the season at home as the Golden Grizzlies hosted the Golden Eagles of Marquette (9/1). The Grizzlies and Eagles played a tight game but the difference was in the 30th minute OU’s Ryan Rzepka scored off a Bret McNabb corner kick to make it a 1-0 game. The Golden Grizzlies were able to preserve the shutout and defeat Marquette 1-0. Senior netminder Mike Skolnik recorded three saves in his first shutout of the year. RECORD: 1-0

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Doug Rice

Oakland’s second contest took the Golden Grizzlies to Dayton, Ohio to battle the Flyers of Dayton (9/7). Head coach Gary Parsons and his crew were about to play in the teams first of five overtime games. Both teams played to an even first half as the Golden Grizzlies out shot Dayton 9-8. Four minutes into the second half Dayton got on the board to lead 1-0. Oakland responded to Daytons score at the 64:40 mark as sophomore Robert Hillman scored his first goal of the year on a pass from senior Chris King to tie the game at 1-1. Six minutes later Hillman would receive his second yellow card of the game resulting in a red card and was ejected and the Grizzlies had to play with 10 men until the game was over. The next goal wasn’t scored until the the 116th minute as Dayton scored in the second overtime to win 2-1. Skolnik recorded nine saves in the loss. RECORD: 1-1

Oakland was scheduled to battle Cincinnati and Western Michigan but due to the September 11 crisis the Cincinnati game was dropped and the Western Michigan game was rescheduled to November 7 in Kalamazoo.

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Philip Braathen was named
Second Team All-Mid-Con

Oakland returned to Michigan to face interstate rival Detroit Mercy (9/18). Both teams were held scoreless in regulation sending the game to overtime. Neither the Golden Grizzlies or the Titans could notch a goal resulting in OU’s first tie of the year. RECORD: 1-1-1

After a 1-1-1 start the Grizzlies were off to play in their first tournament of the year the Pro Soccer Aces Rehab Classic (9/21-23) in Evansville, Indiana. In the first game OU was matched against the 21st ranked team in the nation, the University of Portland. OU suffered its second shutout as Portland scored three unanswered goals to top the Grizzlies 3-0. RECORD: 1-2-1

In the Grizzlies second game of the tournament OU faced the Lobos of New Mexico (9/23). Both teams looked to head into overtime in a tight scoreless battle but in the 88th minute freshman Marcus Halland scored on a rebound from Braathen to give the Grizzlies a 1-0 win. Skolnik recorded his third shutout in the win. RECORD: 2-2-1

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Bret McNabb

After a four game road trip the Golden Grizzlies returned home to host IPFW (9/28). After dominating most of the first half OU’s Pedersen scored his first goal of the year in the 24th minute off a pass from Braathen. Despite excellent scoring chances OU was held to only one goal and went on to win 1-0. RECORD: 3-2-1

The Wolverines of the University of Michigan came to town for the second of three home stands for the Grizzlies (10/3). The Wolverines got on the board early to take a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute. Before the half was over Halland tied it up as he scored on a pass from Vollen to make it a 1-1 game. Four minutes before halftime OU’s Braathen blasted a shot past Michigan’s goalkeeper to make it 2-1. The Grizzlies out shot UofM 6-2 in the first half to lead it 2-1. The Wolverines tied it up in the 76th minute to make it a 2-2 tie. Both teams were unable to score in regulation and in two overtimes to give a 2-2 tie. Skolnik recorded nine saves in the tie. RECORD: 3-2-2

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Marcus Halland

Oakland traveled to Valparaiso, Indiana to battle Valparaiso in OU’s first Mid-Con game of the year (10/6). The game was a low scoring affair as there was only one goal scored courtesy of OU’s King at the 26:59 mark to give OU a 1-0 win. Skolnik recorded three saves in the shutout. RECORD: 4-2-2

Oakland stayed on the road as the Grizzlies traveled to East Lansing to face the Spartans of Michigan State (10/10). Both teams played an even game in the first half despite MSU scoring in the 35th minute to go up 1-0. The score remained 1-0 heading into halftime with both teams having two scoring chances. Michigan State capitalized on the Golden Grizzlies defensive mistakes and scored two goals in the first seven minutes of the second half to lead 3-0. Oakland's Doug Rice scored the Grizzlies lone goal at the 71:36 mark to make it a 3-1 game. MSU scored its fourth goal of the game just three minutes later (74:12) to give Michigan State the final 4-1. RECORD: 4-3-2

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Ryan Rzepka

The Golden Grizzlies returned home to face its second Mid-Con opponent as OU hosted IUPUI (10/13). OU scored the first goal at the 10:25 mark as King passed to Braathen who scored to make it a 1-0 OU lead. The Grizzlies increased the lead as Halland scored in the 20th minute off a pass from Braathen to make it a 2-0 game. The Grizzlies led 2-0 at the break as OU had six shots, while IUPUI only had two. In the second half IUPUI cut the Grizzlies lead in half as the Jaguars' Jason Noyan scored in the 55th minute to make it a 2-1 game. At the 76:53 mark OU's Braathen sealed the win with his second goal of the day to give the Grizzlies the 3-1 victory. Junior Rob Maxwell and Halland were credited with assists. Braathen stained his two goal and one assist day as he received a red card at the 78:32 mark forcing the Grizzlies to play short-handed. RECORD: 5-3-2

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Robert Hillman

Oakland traveled to Columbus, Ohio looking for it’s first win of the year against a Big Ten school (10/17). Both Oakland and Ohio State played evenly in the first half as it was 0-0 at at the intermission. OU and OSU each had four shots in the first 45 minutes. The Buckeyes and Grizzlies continued to play a tough game as it was scoreless with four minutes to play. The Buckeyes John Tomaino scored on a penalty kick at the 86:05 mark to give OSU the 1-0 win. Skolnik tallied six saves in the loss. RECORD: 5-4-2

Oakland returned home looking to collect another win in conference play this time against Oral Roberts (10/20). The Grizzlies were shell shocked as the Golden Eagles stained their perfect conference record with a 1-0 loss. The Grizzlies opened the game with several scoring chances but couldn't capitalize. Both teams headed into halftime scoreless. Oakland had seven shots and kept the Golden Eagles at bay as ORU had no shots at the half. Both teams played evenly until the 70:08 mark as the Golden Eagles scored to make it a 1-0 game. ORU's Sun Potter scored on a header in front of the Golden Grizzlies net to make it a 1-0 game. Oakland wasn't able to tie the game and lost to Oral Roberts by the final of 1-0. RECORD: 5-5-2

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Brian Williams

Gary Parsons and his squad looked to snap their two-game losing streak in Macomb, Illinois against the Leathernecks of Western Illinois (10/27). Oakland was out-shot in the first half 12-2 as Western Illinois dictated play with the wind at its back. Western Illinois took a 1-0 lead in the first five minutes of the second half as they took advantage of a misplay in the box by Oakland and Ryan Cavanaugh made it count. Oakland pressured the Leathernecks down the stretch outshooting them 7-3, but came up empty and lost by the final of 1-0. RECORD: 5-6-2

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Michael Martin

OU returned home for the final time in the 2001 season to host it’s final home game against Akron (10/28). Akron scored the games first goal at the 21:10 mark as the Zips' Torbjorn Birkeland scored to make it a 1-0 game. Nine minutes later the Golden Grizzlies' Pedersen answered back with a direct kick from 20 yards out to tie the game at 1-1. Both teams were tied 1-1 at the half as OU out-shot Akron 6-1. The game remained even until the 74th minute when freshman Michael Martin scored on a pass from fellow freshman Halland to make it a 2-1 game. The goal marked Martin's first goal of the year. The Zips were unable to stage a comeback and lost by the final of 2-1. The win gave the Golden Grizzlies their first win over a ranked team this year as Akron is ranked fourth in the Great Lakes Region. RECORD: 6-6-2

The Golden Grizzlies headed to Kansas City, Missouri to battle UMKC (11/3) for a chance to play in the conference tournament. After a scoreless first half, UMKC's Jason Woods opened the scoring in the 47th minute with his first goal of the season. OU's Maxwell put in the equalizer just five minutes later off a pass from Pedersen. Oakland's McNabb received a red card in the 59th minute, but the Golden Grizzlies didn't fold up their tent. Vollen took a King cross and blasted it past UMKC goalkeeper Beau Williams in the 87th minute to give Oakland the win. Skolnik made four saves in the win for Oakland, while Williams made two in a losing effort for the Kangaroos. With the win the Grizzlies clinched a berth to play in the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament. RECORD: 7-6-2

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Rob Maxwell

Oakland wrapped up the season in Kalamazoo (11/7) to play the rescheduled game against Western Michigan slated for earlier in the season but was postponed due to the national tragedy. The Broncos scored first at the 71:59 mark to take a 1-0 lead. WMU looked to have the game sealed but at the last second of regulation OU's Maxwell scored to tie the game at 1-1 at the 89:59 mark. The scored remained 1-1 after the first overtime but at the 108:56 freshman Martin scored his second goal of the year to give OU the 2-1 win. Freshman Kevin Giroux was credited with the assist. The win marked OU’s longest winning streak of the year at three games. RECORD: 8-6-2

The Golden Grizzlies headed into the Mid-Con Tournament as the number two seed thanks to their last minute heroics against UMKC. As fate would have it OU would face UMKC in the semi-final game of the tournament (11/16) to prove to the world the first game wasn’t a fluke. The two teams played a tight match throughout, and the match's final stats show that. UMKC outshot Oakland by just a 24-23 margin. Kangaroo goalie Beau Williams made eight saves, including three in the last two overtimes periods, while his counterpart, Skolnik, made nine saves for Oakland (8-6-2). UMKC had a chance to win early in overtime, when one of its players was taken down in the box. The Kangaroos sent the penalty kick over the cross bar, however, and the two teams played a stalemate for 60 extra minutes. Oakland's Pedersen missed the first penalty kick, while UMKC's Dan Hilson made the Kangaroos' first try. Oakland's Braathen, Brian Williams and McNabb all made their shots after that point, while UMKC's Larry Scheller, Brian Soell and Scott Kaiser converted. UMKC clinched the shootout win when Oakland's King was thwarted. RECORD: 8-6-3

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Second Teamer Anders Vollen

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Second Teamer Mike Skolnik

FIRST TEAM
Ryan Cavanaugh, WIU D Sr.
Scott Daly, VU F Sr.
Armando Femia, IUPUI GK Sr.
Ben Higginbotham, IUPUI M Jr.
Justin Langan, WIU M So.
Inge Pedersen, OU D Sr.
Sun Potter, ORU F Fr.
Larry Scheller, UMKC F Sr.
Trey Vaut, ORU M So.
Greg Weiler, IUPUI D Sr.
Jason Woods, UMKC D So.

SECOND TEAM
Philip Braathen, OU F Fr.
Dan Hilson, UMKC M So.
Scott Kaiser, UMKC D Jr.
Jason Schroeder, WIU F Sr.
Mike Skolnik, OU GK Sr.
Wade Smith, ORU D Sr.
Brian Soell, UMKC F Sr.
Richard Valente, WIU D Sr.
Anders Vollen, OU M So.
Hector Zapata, ORU GK So.
Eric Zobrist, UMKC M Jr.

Mid-Con Player of the Year
Larry Scheller, UMKC

Mid-Con Newcomer of the Year
Sun Potter, Oral Roberts

Mid-Con Coach of the Year
Rick Benben, UMKC

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