ROCHESTER, Mich. - Vuk Latinovich scored in the 54th minute and the defense of the Milwaukee men's soccer team was up to the task all night, helping the team claim a 1-0 upset victory over Oakland Monday night in the Horizon League Tournament quarterfinals.
"Just thrilled for the guys, outstanding effort tonight," head coach Kris Kelderman said. "We played against a team that had been playing very well as of late and we knew it was going to be a tough game."
The Panthers (9-7-2) put together a brilliant defensive effort against the Golden Grizzlies (9-7-3), helping pull off the No. 6 over the No. 3 upset in the first round of the league postseason.
"Oakland came at us pretty hard from start to finish – it was a huge defensive effort by our team," Kelderman said. "But we knew it was going to be a game that we had to roll up our sleeves, grind and fight."
Latinovich netted the winner at the 53:26 mark, sending home a ball that was deflected back out. His one-timed strike made it inside the far post from about 25 yards away for the only goal of the night.
"Great goal by Vuk and we played great team defense from that point on and we grinded out a result," Kelderman said. "We are excited to see Wright State again. We will be ready to go."
The play developed when Alex Sykes received a pass near midfield and went sprinting down the left sideline, opening up enough space to send clearance into the box. An OU defender knocked the ball away from goal, leaving Latinovich enough space to sneak the attempt in through all kinds of traffic in the box.
The defense sealed it. Freddy Lorenzen finished with four saves, including a highlight-reel stop of a breakaway opportunity in the 74th minute.
The other play of the game occurred in the 81st minute, and came on an Oakland corner kick. A header appeared on its way into the net, only to see Alex Eastman there at the post to clear it off the line, getting just enough of his head on it to send it over the crossbar.
Lorenzen made another quality stop in the 83rd minute and then avoided trouble when the ball got served back into the box but was sent over the bar.
Milwaukee had to clear one last corner kick attempt when the clock was stopped at the 89:57 mark, sending away the danger before starting a celebration on the field.
The Panthers opened the second half yet to record a shot attempt on the day. After some halftime adjustments, the offense started to come together. Latinovich recorded the first MKE shot of the game in the 48th minute, sending a 25-yard free kick on frame.
He netted the eventual winner on just the second shot attempt of the contest.
Evan Conway nearly had an insurance tally, volleying a left-footed cross from Davis Green in the box on frame, only to see a nice stop keep it at 1-0 in the 66th minute.
For the game, OU held clear advantages in shots (11-to-5) and corner kicks (11-to-0). But Milwaukee put all five of theirs on target, with Latinovich leading the way with three.
Up next, the Panthers look for another upset as they head to Ohio on Thursday. The team will get a rematch with league-champ Wright State, set to kick off at 3 p.m. CST.