The final chapter in the story of the 2023 Horizon League Men’s Soccer season has been written with Green Bay coming home with their first league championship since 2009 against the hosting Oakland Golden Grizzlies.
In the matchup of the top two seeds, Oakland was looking to win their 2nd league championship in three years and Green Bay was looking to end a 14-year conference championship drought.
Up in the stands at the Oakland Soccer Field, the bleachers were packed, including many of Oakland’s athletes from softball, track and field, swim, basketball, and more. Green Bay fans also made their presence known, one fan even bringing a drum that was beating all game long.
Down on the field were two teams composed of some of the best in the Horizon League, including the Offensive Player of the Year, the Defensive Player of the Year, the Goalkeeper of the Year, the Freshman of the Year, 6 All-League First Team, 2 All-League Second Team, 3 All-League Freshman Team members, and both Co-Coaches of the Year.
The Phoenix come into this game as the highest scoring team in the league, averaging 1.647 scores a game and 28 total goals, but Oakland matches up against it with the most saves in the league, 91 saves, which is 18 more than the team below them.
Most of the first 20 minutes was spent with Oakland fending off the furious offense of the Phoenix, but after knocking on the door enough times, Green Bay broke through with a goal in the 24th minute by the freshman forward, #9 Chris Album. This is his ninth goal of the season.
In response, Oakland turned up the heat on offense, getting multiple opportunities at the goal, but struggled to get the finishing touch before the Phoenix swooped in on defense.
The first half would conclude with the Phoenix leading 1-0.
In the second half, the student athlete-led student section migrated down to the hill to cheer on their fellow Golden Grizzlies and turn up the intensity of the game.
Oakland would continue to struggle to put a successful offensive possession together as the Green Bay defense made nothing easy.
After many opportunities to score, the Golden Grizzlies fall short, and the Phoenix end their championship drought and punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament with a 1-0 win over Oakland.