After capturing its eighth Summit League regular season championship with an undefeated 5-0-1 league record, the Oakland University men’s soccer team (9-4-3, 5-0-1 Summit League) placed nine players on all-league teams, highlighted by sophomore goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt earning Defensive Player of the Year honors and first-year head coach Eric Pogue being selected Coach of the Year.
“I think individual awards are a reflection of how well the team did as a whole,” said Pogue. “It’s nice for them to get honored for their hard work and they have been working hard since they all reported on August 14. I told the team, though, that the only trophy we will be looking to hold is on Sunday afternoon. I told them to enjoy the moment, but it’s time to put the trophies away and take care of business.”
A native of Livonia, Mich., Hildebrandt led the league with seven shutouts and 0.66 goals against average, a category in which he ranks in the top-10 in the nation.
Joining Hildebrandt on the first team was freshman Johnny Dreshaj (Clinton Township, Mich.), senior Machel James (St. Ann’s Trinidad) and senior Stefan St. Louis (Chaguanas, Trinidad). James and Hildebrandt both led a defensive effort that only allowed 11 goals this season, the lowest in the league, and only two against Summit League opponents.
Offensively, Dreshaj and St. Louis scored three and four goals, respectively, with all of Dreshaj’s being game-winners, the most on the team. St. Louis led the Golden Grizzlies with nine points.
Earning second team honors for Oakland was junior Makesi Lewis (Diego Martin, Trinidad), sophomore Vuk Popovic (Beograd, Serbia) and freshman Leshorn Woods-Henry (Whitby, Ontario). Lewis scored three goals and registered eight points, Popovic assisted the league’s best defense, and Woods-Henry scored one goal, the game-winner against IUPUI on Oct. 17.
In his first season at the helm for the Golden Grizzlies after serving seven years as an assistant, Pogue guided Oakland to an undefeated record league record for the second time in three seasons and has helped OU achieve a 15-1-2 mark in league play over three straight seasons.
“Even though it’s the Coach of the Year award, I really have to thank my entire coaching staff, from Jason Perry, to Steve Seargeant, to John Phillips and to our trainer John Ciecko,” said Pogue. “I believe the award should be a coaching staff award because I’m just one piece of the puzzle. Like I said, it’s truly a reflection of how well our team has done and I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank my entire coaching staff.”
The Golden Grizzlies also had four players named to the All-Newcomer team. Joining Dreshaj and Woods-Henry were freshman James Leutzinger (Romeo, Mich.) and freshman Shane Lyons (Plainwell, Mich.). Leutzinger started in 15 matches on defense while Lyons tallied four goals for a total of eight points.
The men’s soccer tournament will begin tomorrow with top-seeded Oakland taking on No. 4 seed UMKC (6-9-2, 2-2-2 Summit League) at 11 a.m. at the OU Soccer Field. The other semifinal match will begin at 2 p.m. and will consist of No. 2 seed Western Illinois (6-9-2, 3-2-1 Summit League) facing off against No. 3 seed IUPUI (5-10-3, 3-2-1 Summit League).