On Sunday, the Oakland University women’s lacrosse team played against three strong Div. I opponents and showed why the Lady Grizzlies will be a favorite to get back to Colorado for the National Championships next May.
The first game was against Miami of Ohio, a team that last year defeated two top-20 opponents in the regular season. The Red Hawks started off quickly, building a 3-0 lead after the first five minutes of play. OU responded well however, and the Lady Grizzlies finished with a 9-5 win to start the afternoon.
Oakland head coach Towbey Kassa was proud of his team’s effort, especially on defense in the second half.
“The second half we finally got settled in,” Kassa said. “What we did was force people down and make girls shoot high. Lauren (Pattah) is a great high goalie and she’s able to snag those up. The girls did their job and did well.”
The next game was preceded by the presentation of The Old Jug trophy, which will be played for starting next April against Michigan State. The Spartans and Lady Grizzlies have played some extremely close games over the past few seasons, and this match has turned out to be quite a rivalry.
This game was no different. Both teams showed heart and passion, and it was a bit chippy and testy in spots. The Lady Grizzlies again showed great defense, as OU held a 4-1 lead at halftime.
Michigan State and Oakland traded three goals each in the second half, and the Lady Grizzlies held off a late Spartan charge to come away with a 7-4 win.
After the game, Kassa said that he expects much of the same when the two teams meet in the actual trophy game in the spring.
“Greg (Normand) has done a fantastic job,” Kassa said. “They have really turned it around over the past year. He even said to me ‘we can’t wait until April’. They’ve got a good team.”
Kassa also said he was pleased with the team’s performance, especially from the fresh recruits that are now a part of the program.
“I think the team played absolutely fantastic,” Kassa said. “A lot of these are the new girls who have never experienced the Michigan State/Oakland rivalry. They didn’t get down, they played their own game, and it was great.”
In the final game, OU played against Michigan, who has traditionally been one of the powerhouses in the WCLL. Last year, the Wolverines made it to the semifinals of the National Championships and finished fourth overall.
After a major let-down in the first game where Michigan lost to Miami of Ohio, the Wolverines seemed to be angry and played with much more intensity. The Lady Grizzlies could not find an answer to Michigan on this day, as the Wolverines cruised to a 16-6 win over OU.
Kassa thought getting draws and ground balls were a major factor on why his team fell short on this day against the powerful Wolverines.
“If you can’t win a draw, you’re not winning possession,” Kassa said. “If you’re not winning possession, you’re letting goals go. ”
But, Kassa still maintains that he thought the team competed extremely hard over the three games, and was pleased even in the loss.
“Michigan woke up after the first game,” Kassa said. “The girls played well this weekend, and Michigan is a very strong team, that’s why they’re top five in the nation.”
Oakland’s current fall ball record stands at 5-1, and the team will finish play this Saturday with four games scheduled against Dayton, Toledo, Central Michigan, and Michigan B. The schedule for the spring season will be released on Nov. 4.