By Tori Wittenbrock
Associate Sports Editor
ROCHESTER – The Green Bay Phoenix men’s soccer team (10-3-5 overall, 5-2-2 conf.) bested the No. 1 seeded Oakland in the Horizon League Championship on Saturday, Nov. 11 in a 1-0 victorious battle. The victory was the first conference title for the Phoenix in 14 years, since 2009. The win also marked a historical moment for the team as it was their first win against Oakland in Rochester since 1978.
A win was necessary in order for Green Bay to gain its ticket to the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
UW-Green Bay will face Western Michigan in the first round match on Thursday, Nov. 16 in an attempt to advance to the round of 32.
The Horizon League Championship title sets Green Bay on a six game winning streak going into the Tournament. Chris Album, Christoph Schurz, Rohin Kapila, and Keegan Walker were all players named to the All-Tournament Team. On an individual level, Walker secured himself Tournament MVP honors.
“It’s a wonderful feeling. We worked all year long for this moment and we just have to enjoy it and take it all in and just take the next step and go to the NCAA Tournament and do what we do best… win,” said senior Hesron Barry.
After Green Bay saw a 3-1 victory over the Grizzlies during their last meeting at Aldo Santaga Stadium, both teams made it clear that they had a lot on the line from the start of the game.
In the 13th minute of the match, senior forward for the Phoenix Joshua Johansen gleaned a shot off that skimmed just past the far post.
The game proved to be a fairly even match up as both teams saw multiple shots and fouls in the ensuing minutes.
However, as the Phoenix worked their way down the field into the Grizzlies’ box, Myles Sophanavong chipped a cross to the near post where Chris Album was able to get his head underneath the ball and flick it into the back of the net, just past Oakland’s keeper, Finn Jurak to take the lead.
The 1-0 advantage would hold until the end of the match.
Green Bay’s offensive line continued to implement a high press, but senior defender Micah Sonnenberg held strong for Oakland’s backline.
Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year Tobias Jahn proved to come in strong for his team, holding Oakland to a shutout.
Though Oakland gave their most valiant effort to find the back of the net on their home field, Green Bay stayed strong and their lead prevailed.
The Phoenix were able to secure their fifth Horizon League title in program history.
The Phoenix outshot the Golden Grizzlies 12-8 overall and 4-2 on goal, proving themselves to be well-deserving of the conference title.
“It feels fantastic. It feels a lot better with these guys. They deserved it and they earned it and they’ve been earning it all year and I couldn’t’ be more proud of how they’ve been playing all season and especially this week,” said head coach Jeremy Bonomo.