Oakland Concludes Another Successful Campaign with Return to NCAAs

Oakland’s women’s soccer team concluded another successful season in 2006, reclaiming its spot at the top of the Mid-Continent Conference.  The Golden Grizzlies capped off the year with their fifth Mid-Con Championship and fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last six years.  Eight players earned All-Conference honors while junior Kristi Tomczyk (Clinton Township, Mich.) was named the Offensive Player of the Year and senior Cat Panabaker (Hamilton, Ontario) was named Defensive Player of the Year.

The Golden Grizzlies opened the season by hosting #17 Arizona.  The Wildcats pounced on Oakland early, scoring a goal in the first minute, but the Golden Grizzlies were able to tie it 1-1 as sophomore Jessica Boyle (Lake Orion, Mich.) scored her first goal of the season in the 21st minute with assistance from Tomczyk.  Arizona scored again later in the half to take a 2-1 lead into the intermission.  Both teams generated two shots in the second half but neither was able to convert and the Wildcats held on for the 2-1 win. 

Sophomore Jessica Boyle earned Mid-Con Tournament MVP honors after scoring two goals in two games to help OU win the title.  She was also a member of the All-Conference second team.

The next time out OU bested visiting Toledo 2-1 for its first win of the season.  Junior Kristi Mitchell (Troy, Mich.) assisted on a pair of first half goals scored just 75 seconds apart as sophomores Chelsea Atiyeh (Novi, Mich.) and Kristi Evans (Mason, Mich.) each registered their first goals of the season.  The Rockets cut the OU lead in half with a goal in the 58th minute but they were unable to maintain pressure on the attack and Oakland took a 2-1 victory.

Oakland commenced a five-game road trip by traveling to Las Vegas for the UNLV adidas Classic.  They met New Mexico on the first day of the tournament, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Lobos.  Despite being outshot 10-0 in the first half, the Golden Grizzlies were down just 1-0 at the break.  Evans tied the game 1-1 with her second of the year in the 48th minute, but New Mexico would score again in the 56th minute for the win.  OU concluded the tournament against UNLV, falling to the host Rebels by a 7-0 margin.

The Golden Grizzlies next headed to Illinois for a game against Illinois State.  Oakland struggled, being outshot by the Redbirds 25-7 and ended up falling 3-0.  OU’s offensive drought continued at Cincinnati as the Golden Grizzlies fell to the Bearcats 1-0.  Freshman goalkeeper Marky Jenkins (Royal Oak, Mich.) made eight saves against UC in her collegiate debut.

OU concluded its road trip at Western Michigan, pulling out a 3-2 overtime win to snap is four-game winless streak and end the long trip on the right note.  Tomczyk put the Golden Grizzlies up 1-0 in the seventh minute with her first goal of the year.  WMU tied things up with an early second half goal, but Tomczyk recaptured the lead for OU with her second of the game in the 66th minute.  The Broncos knotted the score once again with a goal in the 75th minute.  The game remained deadlocked at 2-2 through 90 minutes and the Golden Grizzlies found themselves in overtime for the first time this season.  Evans scored the game winner in the 97th minute on a penalty kick.

Oakland hosted Loyola Marymount in its first home game in three weeks.  The Lions recorded the first goal of the game to go up 1-0 in the 35th minute.  In the 54th minute LMU struck again to extend its lead to 2-0.  But Tomczyk scored her third goal in two games with help from freshman Susie Lee (Eagan, Minn.) to cut the lead in half 2-1 in the 59th minute.  The Lions regained the two-goal advantage with a goal off a rebound.  Oakland kept attacking and senior Marianne Samdal (Tiller, Norway) converted a Jessica Boyle corner kick in the 87th minute to draw within one 3-2, but LMU was able to hold on for the last three minutes and escaped with a 3-2 win.  Tomczyk was named the Mid-Con offensive player of the week for her efforts against Western Michigan and Loyola Marymount.

The Golden Grizzlies took to the road again, this time making the short trip to Ann Arbor to battle Michigan.  The Wolverines scored first, sailing the ball over the keeper’s head to go up 1-0, a lead that they held through the first half.  Evans converted a free kick from 25 yards out to tie the game 1-1 in the 48th minute.  Samdal gave Oakland its first lead of the game 2-1 when she scored a header goal off a corner kick by Mitchell in the 66th minute.  Despite being outshot by Michigan 17-6, OU held a slight 6-5 edge in scoring chances and it proved to be enough as Oakland took home a 2-1 victory.

Senior Marianne Samdal was named All-Conference for the third straight season, earning a spot on the second team.

Next on the slate for Oakland was a home match against Dayton.  The Flyers took a 1-0 lead with a goal in the 17th minute, an advantage they held at halftime.  Dayton scored just 11 seconds into the second half to extend its lead to 2-0, then followed with two additional to go up 4-0.  Lee scored her first collegiate goal with help from senior Susann Kamrud (Trysil, Norway) to break up the shutout, but the Golden Grizzlies couldn’t generate more goals and lost the game 4-1.

Oakland headed to Cincinnati to face Xavier in a final non-conference tune up before beginning Mid-Con play.  Despite outshooting the Musketeers 16-11 and generating twice as many scoring chances (6-3), OU fell to Xavier 3-0.

The Golden Grizzlies opened conference play by hosting Valparaiso in the last-ever league game between the two teams.  The Crusaders scored late in the first half to take a 1-0 lead into the break.  Tomczyk tied the game 1-1, scoring a goal when the keeper came out to try to intercept the pass by Samdal and Tomczyk beat her to the ball and sent it into the open net.  The game remained tied 1-1 late and it looked as if overtime would be necessary, but the game slipped away from OU as a goal in the 89th minute gave Valparaiso a 2-1 win.

OU’s next match was against Centenary.  The Golden Grizzlies dominated possession time and outshot the Ladies by a six to one margin (25-4).  Samdal scored the first goal of the game in the fourth minute with help from Panabaker.  Tomczyk added two second-half goals and sophomore goalkeeper Kim Herbst (Novi, Mich.) collected her first collegiate shutout as the Golden Grizzlies posted a 3-0 win.

Oakland headed to Oklahoma to battle Oral Roberts, posting its second shutout victory in as many games when it defeated the Golden Eagles 2-0.  Evans converted her second penalty kick of the season in as many tries in the 13th minute while Tomczyk added a goal early in the second half.  Herbst made four saves for her second consecutive shutout; she was subsequently named the Mid-Con defensive player of the week.

The Golden Grizzlies next traveled to Southern Utah to play the Thunderbirds.  Mitchell had a career day, scoring two goals and adding an assist, while Evans added a pair of goals and Samdal chipped in a goal and an assist as Oakland beat SUU 5-1.

Oakland sought to extend its win streak to four, hosting Western Illinois in the final home game of the regular season.  Samdal scored two goals in the first 11 minutes to give OU a 2-0 lead.  Western Illinois drew within one 2-1 with a goal in the 20th minute and that’s how it remained for the rest of the first half.  Oakland’s offensive exploded for four goals in the second half as Tomczyk scored three straight goals and Kamrud registered her first goal of the year, and the Golden Grizzlies posted a decisive 6-1 win.  Samdal earned Mid-Con offensive player of the week accolades for her efforts against Southern Utah and Western Illinois.

Sophomore Kristi Evans was named to the All-Conference first team in 2006.  She finished third on the team in scoring with 16 points on seven goals and two assists.

The Golden Grizzlies closed out the regular season at IUPUI.  Tomczyk scored a goal in the first half and added one in the second half as Oakland built a 2-0 lead over the Jaguars.  But IUPUI scored three unanswered goals late in the half and ended OU’s win streak with a 2-1 victory.

Oakland hosted the Mid-Con Tournament, comprised of No. 1 seed Valparaiso, No. 2 Oakland, No. 3 Southern Utah and No. 4 Western Illinois.  The Golden Grizzlies faced Southern Utah in the second semifinal game and eliminated the Thunderbirds with a 2-1 win.  SUU scored the first goal of the game, but Boyle tied things up 1-1 with a goal late in the first half.  Junior Kali Karibo (Rochester Hills, Mich.) scored her first of the season in the 57th minute, converting a free kick by Evans for the game-winning goal. 

The Golden Grizzlies faced Western Illinois in the championship game two days later.  The game remained scoreless until Boyle and Samdal connected for a goal in the 74th minute.  But the Westerwinds answered approximately four minutes later, tying the game at 1-1.  Two overtimes later the game was still deadlocked at 1-1 and the championship needed to be decided in a shootout.  OU changed goalkeepers, putting in Jenkins for the shootout.  The move paid off as she stopped one WIU shooter while another fired wide and the Golden Grizzlies won the shootout 4-3 to capture their first Mid-Con Tournament championship in three years.  Boyle was named the tournament MVP while Mitchell, Panabaker and Samdal joined Boyle on the All-Tournament team.

Oakland returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003, drawing a first-round match up with #1 Notre Dame, the top seed in the bracket.  Rain poured and Fighting Irish built a 2-0 lead in the first half on a muddy field.  Lightning delayed the game at the end of the first half and when play resumed 90 minutes later, the Golden Grizzlies scored early, cutting the Notre Dame advantage to 2-1 when Evans sent a free kick just underneath the crossbar.  The Fighting Irish kept attacking, however, scoring an additional five goals to take a 7-1 victory and eliminating Oakland from the tournament.

Evans joined Tomczyk and Panabaker on the All-Conference first team while Boyle, Mitchell and Samdal were members of the second team.  Freshmen Lindsey Blair (Northville, Mich.) and Marlie Lieberman (West Bloomfield, Mich.) earned spots on the All-Newcomer team.

Oakland University 2007. All rights reserved.

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