Oakland Women’s Soccer Makes It Two Trips In A Row To The NCAA Tournament

Oakland University’s women’s soccer team’s 2002 season was full of ups and downs. After posting its fewest wins since 1994, the team rebounded to win the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament Championship title and compete for the second year in a row in the NCAA Tournament. While the Golden Grizzlies finished their season with an 11-12 record, the team continued where they left off last year as far as Mid-Con awards and accolades were concerned. Junior midfielder Erica Demers (Welland, Ont.) was named Mid-Con’s Player of the Year while freshman forward Kristi Swaving (Albuquerque, New Mexico) was tabbed league’s Newcomer of the Year. Joining these two players as first team All-Mid-Con selections were teammates Sarah Buckland (Jr./Burlington, Ont.), Debbie Cartmel (Sr./Merseyside, Eng.), and Kim Moore (Sr./Georgetown, Ont.). Grizzlies Therese Bjorke (Jr./Lovenstad, Norway) and last year’s Newcomer of the Year Katie Arnott (So./St. John’s, Newfoundland) were received second team All-Mid-Con accolades.

Kristi Swaving, the Mid-Con Newcomer of the Year, finished second for the Golden Grizzlies with eight goals.

Oakland started off the season by winning the Verizon Tournament at Marquette University in Wisconsin with wins over Wisconsin-Milwaukee and host Marquette. The weekend sparked the Grizzlies off to a great start and marked the second straight year they had won the tournament. The Grizzlies then fell on hard times and dropped their next six games before exploding to an 8-0 win over Youngstown State on September 27. Senior forward Cartmel led the Grizzlies in the win tallying two goals and two assists for six points.

The Golden Grizzlies next win came in their first regular season conference game against Southern Utah by a margin of 5-1. Sophomore Natalie Simas (Kitchener, Ont.) netted two goals for the Grizzlies including the team’s game-winning goal. On the same weekend, the team dropped a 3-0 decision to Mid-Con regular season champs Oral Roberts. This was a defeat the Grizzlies would keep in their minds and seek to revenge come conference championship weekend.

Hosting Western Illinois in a conference match-up on October 11 saw the Grizzlies slaughter the Westerwinds 5-0. Swaving hammered in the team’s only hat trick of the season for six points. In the team’s next win over the University of Detroit on October 18, it would be Mid-Con Player of the Year Demers who would lead the team and score two goals to lead Oakland to its sixth win of the season.

Oakland would then proceed to wrap up conference regular season play with a win over IUPUI in Indiana on October 25, by a score of 3-0. The Grizzlies finished in third place in the Mid-Con Conference with a 3-2 record after losing to both Oral Roberts and Valparaiso. This marked the first time the team hadn’t won the regular season title since joining the Mid-Con.

The Golden Grizzlies celebrate their third straight Mid-Con Tournament championship.

The Grizzlies began their longest winning streak at the end of the season while preparing for the Mid-Con tournament. The Grizzlies strolled by Western Michigan 4-0 on their way to defeating Toledo 2-1 before heading to Oklahoma for the Mid-Con tournament. Although the Grizzlies looked to be on a winning streak, the team suffered a major loss with an injury to senior center back Moore during the Toledo match.  Moore would be sidelined for the rest of the 2002 season and OU would have to play the postseason without their top defender.

The semi-final match-up game of the Mid-Con's saw the Grizzlies achieve revenge on Valpo with a 1-0 victory and moved into the championship game against Oral Roberts. Despite being without three starters for the tournament, Oakland managed to hold the Golden Eagles to a 1-1 tie through regulation and overtime periods and defeat the host team 4-2 on penalty kicks to win the Mid-Con title and move onto play in the NCAA Tournament.

The Grizzlies goalkeeper Buckland was named MVP of the Mid-Con tournament while also being named to the tournament team. Other Grizzlies to receive this honor were Cartmel, Demers, and freshman Ingrid Mortensen (Tromsdalem, Norway).

Junior Erica Demers was named the Mid-Con Player of the Year after scoring five goals and seven assists.

The Grizzlies drew the University of Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Having lost 2-0 to the Wolverines in a previous game during the season, the Grizzlies looked to upset the higher seeded host school. However, the Grizzlies would come up short in a hard fought match and fall to the Wolverines by a margin of 1-0.

Cartmel wound up leading the team in scoring, netting nine goals and totaling 24 points during the campaign. Demers led the squad in assists with seven. Twelve different players scored for Oakland during the season as the Golden Grizzlies outscored their opponents by a 45-29 margin. Despite having a losing record, the Golden Grizzlies can claim the season a success. The team won its third consecutive conference crown and made its second appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Approaching the 2003 season, the team will look to better their 2002 season record and advance even farther in the NCAA Tournament.


Oakland University 2003. All rights reserved.

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