On March 21st, the Oakland University Lady Grizzlies got back to business after a tough loss to Michigan just two nights before.
The Toledo Rockets came to Detroit Country Day High School, and no one was sure how OU would respond. Oakland came out strong for this game and never looked back, defeating Toledo 14-4 and raising the team’s record to 3-1.
Lauren Pattah stopped 20 shots to earn the win for the Grizzlies. Pattah was one of the big stars of the game, and said that Oakland’s defense was better in every way against the Rockets.
“It was a big turnaround,” Pattah said. “There was lots of talking, and a lot of communication. It was nothing like the Michigan game.”
Head coach Towbey Kassa said it was absolutely critical that Pattah had a game like this to get her ready for the upcoming stretch.
“This is game Lauren needed, she needed this game,” Kassa said. “This was a big boost for her.”
Assistant coach Dwayne Hicks was also concerned on how the team would look after the game in Ann Arbor, and thought OU succeeded in playing a spirited game that kept the ball moving.
“I think we went over our mistakes in practice, and what I told them is to come out and make the game pretty,” Hicks said. “They’ve got to move the ball, keep their head up, and play really pretty lacrosse.”
At halftime, Oakland led 7-3 over the Rockets. In the second half, OU’s defense continued to frustrate the Rockets, as the Grizzlies outscored Toledo 7-1 to secure the win.
After the game, Kassa said he felt his team was a little out of sync early, but was happy with how the team answered after the Michigan game.
“I think we could have played a bit better, as far as I think we were a little bit rusty,” Kassa said. “They responded well and everybody got involved today.”
Pattah said this game was a much-needed boost of confidence for the team for the upcoming triple-header on Sunday at Lake Orion High School.
“I think it’s a good game to come off of,” Pattah said. “We’ll be ready to play on Sunday.”
Hicks echoed the sentiments of his All-American goaltender, and said the key to the weekend’s games would be to come out and finish all three games with a constant intensity.
“Probably the most important thing is going in after today’s game with confidence,” Hicks said. “For Sunday, we have to know we’ve got three games and play them all at the same level and not go down as the games get later.”
On Sunday, March 24th, Oakland played three games at Lake Orion High School in the Oakland University Play Day. The temperatures were cold, but the unrelenting winds made the games brutal, with wind chills in the teens for the afternoon games.
In the first game of the day, OU played against the University of Michigan-Flint in what would be UM-Flint’s inaugural game as a program. The Grizzlies came out strong and took care of business, cruising to a 23-2 win.
Kassa said that there was not very much to get upset about in the first game, and wanted to save the team’s legs for the later tilts.
“We knew that they were a brand new team and hadn’t had a lot of practice,” Kassa said. “It was a good game. There really wasn’t much to complain about.”
The second game was a rematch of last year’s WCLA conference championship against the University of Dayton Flyers. The Flyers had much to prove after a 14-7 loss last year ended the team’s season.
In this game, Oakland needed a huge comeback to send the game to overtime, and Desiree Messina scored the game-winning goal in the first overtime half, as the Grizzlies held on for a 7-6 win.
Kassa knew that this game would be a fight throughout, and was impressed with the grit and determination that OU showed.
“I knew Dayton was a good team and they would not get pushed over,” Kassa said. “Their desire and willingness to compete throughout that game was really good. When our team works together and focuses, they always find a way to come back.”
Dayton held a 4-3 halftime lead, and extended the lead to 6-4 with less than five minutes to play. After Messina scored a goal with 2:15 left, Kassa called a timeout to stop the clock and keep the team’s momentum.
“I had to use the timeouts to my strategy, knowing it was going to be a close game like that,” Kassa said. “It was a battle.”
Pattah was brilliant in this game and was instrumental in keeping OU close, as she stopped 23 shots and made many huge saves.
In the final game of the afternoon, Oakland took on another divisional rival in Grand Valley State University. Oakland jumped out early and held on against the Lakers, winning the game 8-5.
Oakland had a 4-1 lead at the halftime break, but the game was still close until very late, when a transition goal with 30 seconds left for the Grizzlies put the game on ice.
Kassa was pleased with the effort in the conditions, and said it was difficult to maintain a good tempo against GVSU.
“I honestly think by that time the girls were gassed, and it’s hard to get a good rhythm,” Kassa said. “With that wind it drains you. If it was just cold that’s okay, but when you get that wind at your face, it takes more out of you.”
With the four wins over four days, Oakland’s record stands at 6-1. Next week, Oakland will officially play for the division title as the Grizzlies finish the Div. II season with a game against Eastern Michigan on Thursday.
If the Grizzlies win against the Eagles, it will be the team’s seventh consecutive divisional title. That game will be followed with one on Saturday against Western Michigan University. Both games will be at Lake Orion High School.
|Head Coach||Towbey Kassafirstname.lastname@example.org||248-379-5153|
|Assistant Coach||Dwayne Hicksemail@example.com||248-752-1143|
|Vice President||Nina Grubbafirstname.lastname@example.org||248-978-2218|