The top-seeded Oakland Golden Grizzlies scored three unanswered goals to avenge an earlier loss and send the Valparaiso University men's soccer team home with a 4-2 loss in the semi-finals of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament in Kansas City, Mo.
Jon Brighton (Warner Robins, Ga./Houston County) got Valpo on the board first, scoring in the lower left corner in the 11th minute on a feed from D.J. Catrow (Springfield, Ohio/Catholic Central). Ben Gearhart tied the game for Oakland in the 17th minute, but the Crusaders pulled ahead again 20 seconds later when senior Tim Bowington (Odessa, Texas/Permian) scored the first goal of his Valpo career off another Catrow assist.
From there, however, it would be all Oakland. The Golden Grizzlies tied the game in the 22nd minute, and dominated the second half of play, scoring twice and holding Valpo without a shot on goal.
Catrow, named to the All-Conference Second Team on Thursday, finishes the season with team-leading totals of six goals, six assists, and 18 points. The junior's six assists are third most all-time in Crusader history, and his 10 career assists are seventh best all-time.
Jeff Oleck (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral) suffered the defeat while making seven saves, but his performance was good enough to keep his career goals against average at 2.05, tying a Valpo record. Jeff Wiese, the 2004 and 2005 Mid-Con Defensive Player of the Year, did not record a save for Oakland, but did come away with the victory.
The Crusader season ends with a 6-10-2 overall record, equaling the most wins for a Valpo team since the 1997 squad went 8-12-1. The Golden Grizzlies move on Sunday's Mid-Con Championship match, where they will meet Western Illinois at 2:00. The third-seeded Leathernecks outlasted Oral Roberts in penalty kicks Friday afternoon.