Oakland’s men’s soccer team struggled through its share of adversity in 2006, but despite the trials the Golden Grizzlies demonstrated the ability they’re known for. OU recorded victories over big schools such as Michigan State, played against several ranked schools and placed two athletes on the Mid-Con All-Conference team.
OU opened the season with a 1-0 victory over Coastal Carolina. Sophomore Ian Daniel (Troy, Mich.) put the Golden Grizzlies ahead early with a goal in the fifth minute, converting on a corner kick.
Freshman Stefan St. Louis led the team in scoring as a freshman in 2006. He earned spots on the All-Conference second team and the All-Newcomer team.
The Golden Grizzlies then commenced the toughest stretch of their schedule, hosting 17th ranked St. John’s before hitting the road for four straight games against Drake, Cal-State Northridge, #10 UCLA and #10 Akron. Oakland’s offense struggled to score goals and the Golden Grizzlies dropped all five games. Senior goalkeeper Josh Slaughter (Troy, Mich.) made a season-high seven saves against Drake.
OU’s opened conference play by hosting Centenary. The team regained its scoring touch at the right time, registering four goals on the Gentlemen to post a 4-1 victory. Junior Nick Nelson (Vicksburg, Mich.) led OU with a goal and an assist while junior Adam Kliebert (Okemos, Mich.), senior Jim Denk (Park Ridge, Ill.) and freshman Stefan St. Louis (Chaguanas, Trinidad) also scored goals and sophomore Piotr Nowak added an assist. Sophomore goalkeeper Steve Clark (Mason, Mich.) held the Gentlemen scoreless through the first half while Slaughter played the second half and turned aside six shots.
Oakland traveled to Michigan for a non-conference game before hosting Mid-Con rival Western Illinois. OU was shut out by both opponents, falling to Michigan 3-0 and Western Illinois 4-0, but was about to close out the month of September and enter October playing some of its best games of the season.
The Golden Grizzlies headed west to play Western Michigan and took home a 2-1 victory. Denk gave OU a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute, scoring a goal on a rebound. The Broncos knotted the game 1-1 in with a goal off a free kick in the 44th minute. As time wound down and the score remained deadlocked at 1-1 it looked like overtime would be necessary, but St. Louis’ goal in the final minute of play sealed the win for Oakland.
Next on the slate was a Mid-Con game at Valparaiso. Clark made five saves in the first half to keep the game scoreless after one, but a Crusaders goal in the 53rd minute proved to be the difference as Valparaiso beat Oakland 1-0.
Oakland hosted Michigan State in a non-conference tilt and sent the Spartans home with a 2-1 loss. Nelson gave OU a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute, converting on a nice pass from senior Brady Vance (Traverse City, Mich.). The Spartans evened things up 1-1 seven minutes later and the game remained tied until midway through the second half when St. Louis scored his third goal of the season to give OU the 2-1 victory.
The Golden Grizzlies’ next test was a Mid-Con battle at IUPUI. OU came out on top once again, besting the Jaguars 2-1. After a scoreless first half the Jaguars took a 1-0 lead in the 48th minute. Oakland tied the game in the 76th minute when Ben Gearhart (Rochester, Mich.) scored his first goal of the season with help from Kliebert. Three minutes later St. Louis put the Golden Grizzlies out in front 2-1 with assistance from junior Lew Tripp (Whitmore Lake, Mich.) and freshman Sebastian Harris (Lake Orion, Mich.).
Junior defender Adam Brent was named to the All-Conference second team for the second consecutive year.
Oakland hosted #24 Cincinnati and battled the Bearcats to a scoreless draw at the end of 90 minutes. Despite a career-high nine saves by Clark the Golden Grizzlies fell to Cincinnati 1-0 in overtime.
OU played its second of three straight home matches against Mid-Con foe UMKC. Sophomore Wade Allen gave Oakland a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute, a lead that the Golden Grizzlies would maintain through the end of the first half. The Kangaroos tied the game 1-1 on a penalty kick and would go on to win the game 2-1 with a goal in the 83rd minute.
The Golden Grizzlies hosted Ohio State in the final home game of the season. Nowak had a goal and an assist while Denk scored a goal as OU took a 2-0 lead in the first half. But the Buckeyes scored a pair of second half goals to knot the score 2-2 and send the game into overtime. Ohio State would claim the 3-2 victory with a goal in the 96th minute.
Oakland’s last non-conference game of the season was at Detroit. The Titans went up 2-0, but the Golden Grizzlies battled back with two goals in the second half. Nelson recorded his third goal of the season and Harris scored his first collegiate goal with help from Vance to tie the game 2-2. For the third time in four games, OU went to overtime. Both teams generated two shots in the first overtime session and one in the second, but neither was able to convert and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
OU closed out the season at Oral Roberts, falling to the Golden Eagles 2-0. Despite outshooting ORU in the first half the Golden Grizzlies were unable to convert and two second-half goals by the Golden Eagles proved to be the difference.
Two Golden Grizzlies were honored by the league as junior defender Adam Brent (Rochester, Mich.) and St. Louis were named to the All-Conference second team. St. Louis also earned a spot on the All-Newcomer team.
Oakland University 2007. All rights reserved.