ROCHESTER, Mich. – On a chilly night at the Oakland Soccer Field, the top-seeded Golden Grizzlies made two first half goals stand up, outlasting Wright State, 2-1, to earn the Horizon League Men’s Soccer championship.
Oakland (9-6-3) became the first No. 1 seed to claim the tournament championship since 2010, when Butler won the Horizon League. Across 10 matches against Horizon League competition, the Golden Grizzlies were not beaten this season. The Golden Grizzlies are returning the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010, but will be carrying the Horizon League flag for the first time.
Oakland jumped out to an early lead just past the 5:00 mark, as Matt Dudley came free down the left side. Shooting with the outside of his right foot, Dudley’s shot beat the keeper, but was headed wide of the far post.
However, Joey Tinnion was in place to finish the build-up, depositing the ball in the net to stake the Golden Grizzlies to a 1-0 lead.
Oakland continued to have the better chances in the first half, and 30 minutes later, the Golden Grizzlies would capitalize on a foul in the box. This time, Tinnion sent a cross inside the six-yard box, where Gerald Ben was deemed to have been fouled.
Ben went slightly left of center to find the back of the net, giving Oakland a key cushion, 2-0.
With two goals and an assist over two tournament matches, Ben earned tournament most valuable player honors.
Wright State would find its rhythm late in the half, with Eric Lynch’s free kick finding AJ Paterson in the box, but Paterson’s header was wide right, sending Oakland into the intermission up two goals.
The Raiders halved the deficit in the 72nd minute after a foul set up a free kick 22 yards from goal. Sam DeRoy curled a cross through the defense, and Marquis Payton chipped a shot over Wes Mink from five yards out.
Continuing to push for the equalizer in the final stages of the match, the Raiders had their best opportunity come with three minutes remaining, but Payton’s right-footed drive was wide left.
Wright State (12-7-2) fell for the second time in four years in the Horizon League championship.
Oakland will find out its NCAA Tournament destination on Monday, Nov. 17, at 1 p.m. EST. The tournament field will be announced live on NCAA.com.
Aidan Kuhls, Detroit
Spiro Pliakos, Detroit
Matt Derezic, Cleveland State
Nick Ciraldo, Cleveland State
Emeka Ononye, Wright State
Eric Lynch, Wright State
Tyler Blackmer, Wright State
John DeLeon, Oakland
Gavin Hoy, Oakland
Cody Archibald, Oakland
Gerald Ben, Oakland (MVP)