The UA Men's Soccer Insider

Derschang the Hero for UA Against UM

ANN ARBOR, MI - October 30, 2013 - Senior Robbie Derschang scored a pair of first-half goals to lead the No. 17 University of Akron men's soccer to a 2-1 victory over Michigan Wednesday night at U-M Soccer Stadium.

With the win, the Zips improved their record to 12-3-1 and are now unbeaten in their last six matches (5-0-1). UA is also 2-0-1 against schools from the Big Ten Conference this fall and 24-4-5 in all since 2007.

Derschang, who recorded the game-winner against Northern Illinois last Saturday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field, stayed hot by finding the back of the net twice in the first 36 minutes of the match.

"It was a great effort from the team tonight," said UA head coach Jared Embick. "The guys showed a lot of heart. I thought were played very well in the first half, aside from a let down right before halftime. In the second half, we dug in our heels and fought for the victory. We knew we would have to withstand some pressure from Michigan and we did well in dealing with it. This is not an easy place to play but we were able to find a way to win the game."

Derschang gave the Zips a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute by finishing a beautiful combination play. Saad Abdul-Salaam crossed the ball from the far right flank to Matt Foldesy, who flicked it through to Derschang with a one-touch pass. The senior took it and slotted the goalkeeper from 10 yards out.

Derschang then took advantage of some confusion in the Wolverines' backfield when he struck again in the 36th minute. After a shot by Aodhan Quinn was blocked by a wall of U-M defenders, Derschang gathered the loose ball and tucked a low shot just inside the near post with a side volley.

Michigan pulled one back with less than a minute left before halftime against the run of play. Tyler Arnone sent a long free kick from near midfield into the box where Ezekiel Harris played the second ball into the net.

Derschang is the third Akron player to record a brace this season, following Eric Stevenson, who accomplished the feat in a 2-1 double-overtime win against San Diego St., and Adam Najem, who led the Zips to a 2-1 win at Cleveland St.

Derschang, who transfered from SMU in 2012, had recorded just two goals in his first 47 matches in an Akron uniform but has now found the back of the net three times in his last two matches.

He had two quality chances to bag the hat trick in the second half, but Wolverines' goalkeeper Adam Grinwis, who finished with six saves, made a pair of stops on a dangerous strike from the left side of the field in the 55th minute and a tricky header off a cross from Abdul-Salaam in the 81st.

After completely dominating play in the first half, Michigan (7-5-3) made things interesting after the break. The Wolverines nearly pulled even late in the second half with a cross that skipped across the goal and just out of reach of an attacking player, who was looking at an open net.

Zips goalkeeper Fernando Pina, who finished with five stops, did well to manage his box all night and made a couple clutch saves in the final frantic minutes to preserve the win for Akron, which improved to 10-4-0 all-time against its neighbors to the north. For the match, the Zips out-shot the Wolverines 22-12 overall and 8-6 on goal.

"I am proud of this team and look forward to our next match against Big Ten Champion Penn State next Wednesday night," Embick said. "We will need our fans to come out and support us in full force for what will be a great game."

UA will have a week to prepare for No. 9 Penn State. The Zips and Nittany Lions will kick off at 7 p.m. ET at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field in UA's final home game of the regular season.

Derschang Celebrates UA Senior Night With Game Winner Against NIU

AKRON, OH - October 26, 2013 - The No. 18 University of Akron men's soccer team moved one step closer to securing their ninth-consecutive Mid-American Conference regular season championship with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Northern Illinois Saturday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

After being honored as one of five Zips' seniors in a pre-game ceremony, Robbie Derschang made his Senior Night even more memorable with the game-winning goal in the 76th minute. It was his first goal of the season.

With the victory, UA (11-3-1, 4-1-0 MAC) secured a berth to the MAC Tournament, which will be hosted by the No. 1 seed on Nov. 15 and 17, and can claim the league's regular season crown with a win at Western Michigan in the regular-season finale on Nov. 9.

With the score tied at 1-all late in the second half, Adam Najem, who scored UA's first goal in the 12th minute, slipped a quick cross to Derschang on the near right flank. Derschang took a quick touch before firing a shot that zipped across the goal and inside the far post.

Fittingly, all four seniors who played made a positive impact as UA improved to 4-0-1 in its last five matches. The team's leading goal scorer and senior, Reinaldo Brenes missed his third straight match with a leg injury.

The Zips jumped on top early thanks to Najem's fourth goal in his last five matches at the 11:25 mark. Derschang initiated the play by running a ball down on the left side of the field before crossing it to Saad Abdul-Salaam, who redirected it to Najem in front of the net.

The freshman stayed hot by burying his shot from 12 yards out to give Akron a 1-0 lead. Najem is now tied with Brenes for the team lead in goals scored with four. Moreover, all four of Najem's goals have come in the month of October.

Akron's lead was short lived however as Huskies' junior striker Isaac Kanaah slipped through the Zips' back line and skipped a shot by UA goalkeeper Fernando Pina in the 15th minute. Akron nearly got the goal right back just three minutes later when Najem perfectly left the ball for Matt Foldesybut Foldesy's liner from the wing banged off the left post.

Nonetheless, it was another dominant showing in the stat sheet for UA, which out-shot NIU 18-4 overall and 5-1 on goal. The Zips also posted an 11-2 margin for corner kicks.

Akron will look to continue its winning ways when its jumps back on the road for a mid-week match at Michigan Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET.

UA Men's Soccer Battles No. 17 Michigan State To A Scoreless Draw

AKRON, OH - October 23, 2013 - Despite dominating play for 110 minutes, the No. 18 University of Akron men's soccer team was forced to settle for a draw in a scoreless result against No. 17 Michigan State Wednesday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

The Zips (10-3-1) were sharp in their build up but couldn't find the finishing touch while out-shooting the Spartans 23-5 overall and 10-2 on frame. Still, it was a quality result against an MSU side (8-2-3) that entered play averaging nearly two goals per game and was shutout for the first time all season.

Freshman Fernando Pina made a pair of stops and sophomore defender Andrew Souders was a brick wall on the Zips backline as UA posted its third consecutive shutout and eighth clean sheet overall in 14 matches.

As the final statistics suggest, Akron was a bit unlucky as well as the Zips had a number of chances to jump on top but were turned away by Spartans goalkeeper Zach Bennett, who finished with 10 saves.

UA controlled the run of play from the start, out-shooting MSU 11-2 in the first 45 minutes, and appeared destined to take the lead in the closing seconds of the first half, but Saad Abdul-Salaam's shot from straight away and Matt Foldesy's ensuing rebound were both saved by Bennett.

The Zips had another golden opportunity near the end of the second half when Adam Najem, who banged a liner off the crossbar in the first half, created space in front of the net and had a go from the top of the box. Bennett made the stop, then quickly got into position to turn away the rebound by Quinn. Zac Portillos, who got the start at left back in place of Robbie Derschang, sent another dangerous shot into the fray just seconds later but Bennett wouldn't let it through and the match went into overtime.

Akron out-shot Michigan State 6-1 over the two overtime periods but couldn't capitalize. The Zips' best chance may have come in the 104th minute when Najem timed up a cross from Bryan Gallego and sent the one-timer just over the cross bar and out of play.

UA will jump back into Mid-American Conference play Saturday night when Northern Illinois comes to FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field for a 7 p.m. ET kick. Akron will salute its five seniors –Reinaldo Brenes, Derschang, Portillos, Quinn and Eric Stevenson – in a pre-game ceremony.

Najem Bags The Golden Goal As UA Men's Soccer Tops Buffalo, 1-0

BUFFALO, NY - October 18, 2013 - A golden goal by freshman Adam Najem lifted the No. 23 University of Akron men's soccer team to a 1-0 Mid-American Conference victory against Buffalo Friday night at UB Stadium.

It was a beautiful goal for Najem, who took a cross from Saad Abdul-Salaam and fired it into the back of the net at the 107:54 mark from 15 yards out. It was the Zips' third consecutive win and seventh victory overall in their last eight matches.

With the dramatic result, UA improved to 10-3-0 overall and took sole possession of first place in the MAC with a league record of 3-1-0.

"Buffalo is never an easy place to play," said UA head coach Jared Embick. "Credit has to go to the Bulls, who played a heck of a game and with a lot of heart. Tonight may not have been pretty or our best performance but I knew if we could produce one moment of quality, we could score the goal we needed.

"This team could have folded or accepted the tie but they wanted to win and found a way to do just that. I give Louis Cross, Andrew Souders and Fernando Pina a lot of credit for the way they played tonight. They kept a clean sheet and bought us time to score the winning goal."

Najem has scored three goals in his last three games and is tied for second on the team with a pair of game-winning goals. With the setback, the Bulls fell to 2-9-3 overall and 1-3-0 in the conference.

Najem's heroics would not have been possible however had it not been for a highlight reel-worthy save by Pina, the Zips freshman goalkeeper, near the end of regulation.

With both teams still searching for the match's first goal, Buffalo's Kristian Lee-Him appeared to find one in the 82nd minute when he created space at the top of the 18 and fired a rocket through a wall of Akron defenders. Displaying tremendous reflexes and athleticism, Pina dove to his right to make the stop at the last second and send the game into overtime.

With a pair of saves, Pina and the Zips notched their seventh shutout in 12 contests this fall.

The first half was dominated by the Zips, who had a number of quality chances to put a goal on the board, but UB goalkeeper Waleed Cassis was up to the challenge, recording four saves to keep the match scoreless. It was a strong evening overall for Cassis, who finished with eight saves.

As a result of Akron's dominating possession, Pina was rarely tested early on. Buffalo, which sat back for much of the match, was more aggressive after halftime and had a couple of good looks but couldn't break through.

In all, UA doubled up UB in shots, 18-9, and recorded nine shots on goal, compared to just two for the Bulls. Akron also recorded eight corner kicks to Buffalo's two.

The Zips will next return home to play host to Michigan State Wednesday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

Quinn's First-Half Penalty Kick Downs No. 15 Wake Forest, 1-0

AKRON, OH - October 15, 2013 - Behind a dominant first half and penalty kick by Aodhan Quinn in the 42nd minute, The No. 23 University of Akron men's soccer team knocked off No. 15 Wake Forest Tuesday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

It was a signature win for the Zips (9-3-0), who have gone 2-0 since their set back against Hartwick earlier this month and their first positive result against a nationally-ranked opponent this fall.

Sophomore Matt Foldesy was tackled from behind in the box in the 42nd minute to set up Quinn's first penalty kick of the season. The senior, who returned to the Akron lineup last Wednesday after missing the previous four matches with an ankle injury, came through with his second game winner of the year.

With the loss, the Demon Deacons fell to 6-3-4.

Akron was in complete control in the first half, posting a shots advantage of 10-3. Moreover, UA generated a number of dangerous chances and pushed the Wake Forest defense to its limit.

In particular, Quinn had a pair of breakaway shots saved by the Demon Deacons' goalkeeper Alec Ferrell midway through the first half. Ferrell also made quality stops of a header by Louis Cross on an Akron corner kick and a straight-away shot by Reinaldo Brenes.

Possession was much more balanced in the second half but Wake Forest was the more threatening side as it pushed for the equalizer.

The Deacs best chance came in the 77th minute when Ross Tomaselli sent a direct free kick from straigh on through the wall but Zips goalkeeper Fernando Pina sniffed it out and made the stop.

It was one of four saves in the second half for Pina, who recorded his sixth shutout of the season. The redshirt freshman recorded five stops overall Tuesday.

Akron will look to stay hot when it jumps back into Mid-American Conference play Friday night at Buffalo. The Zips and Bulls will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Najem's Brace Leads UA Past Cleveland State 2-1

CLEVELAND, OH - October 9, 2013 - Freshman Adam Najem scored a goal in each half to lead the No. 20 University of Akron men's soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Cleveland State Wednesday night at Krenzler Field.

It was a convincing bounce-back performance for the Zips (8-3-0), who out-shot the Vikings 11-6 and controlled the large majority of the match. Najem gave UA a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute, then found the back of the net again in the 70th to put the game away. It was the first two goals of his collegiate career.

With the win, Akron avoided dropping back-to-back games for the first time since 2007.

UA's attack was sharp early on as the Zips locked the Vikings into the finishing third for much of the half. UA was patient with its possession and broke CSU down in the 20th minute.

Reinaldo Brenes initiated the play by running down a long pass from midfield and crossing it to Najem, who found space in front of the net. The true freshman took full advantage with a beautiful strike from straight on that left the keeper no chance. It was Najem's first goal of the season.

The first goal opened the game up and created some dramatic moments on both sides of the field.Eric Stevenson came close to putting another goal on the board in the 26th minute by rushing in from the near right flank to finish a cross. But his bender banged off the right post and out of harm's ways.

Cleveland St. created some frantic moments in its finishing third towards the end of the first half but Akron goalkeeper Fernando Pina was up to the challenge, making three saves – including a couple diving stops on CSU restarts – to send the Zips to a 1-0 lead at the break.

Najem gave UA a two-goal lead in the second half by finishing a cross from Saad Abdul-Salaam. Akron was rarely threatened in the second half until CSU's Sergio Manesio cut the Zips' lead in half with less than three minutes to play on a breakaway.

The Zips will next return home to take on Wake Forest Tuesday night. The Zips and Demon Deacons will kick off at 7 p.m. ET.

Hartwick Ends Streak for UA Men's Soccer

AKRON, OH - October 5, 2013 - The No. 9 University of Akron men's soccer team saw its NCAA record-setting conference unbeaten streak come to an end in a 2-0 defeat to Hartwick Saturday at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

The Zips (7-3-0, 2-1-0 Mid-American Conference) dominated the game – out-shooting the Hawks 27-6 overall and 13-2 on frame – yet lost two moments, allowing a restart goal in the 65th minute and a counter attack score in the 86th. It was UA's first conference defeat since 2006, snapping a string of 49 (46-0-3) unbeaten matches.

Much like its 1-0 setback against VCU last month, Akron created a number of quality scoring chances, including 16 corner kicks while allowing none, but couldn't finish. While the Zips pressured the Hartwick goal throughout the match, Hawks goalkeeper Mateo Munarriz was the difference maker, turning away a total of 13 shots to post his second shutout of the fall.

Hartwick broke a scoreless tie midway through the second half when Kit Tregear flicked home a long throw in from Jack Miller.

Akron had a great opportunity to pull even in the 85th minute when a Hawks defender was called for a hand ball in the penalty area. Zips senior Reinaldo Brenes took the subsequent penalty kick, but couldn't convert.

With UA throwing numbers forward, Hartwick capitalized on a breakaway to put the game away. Marc Russell made a long run before crossing the ball to Chris Walter, who finished from close range.

Eric Stevenson led the Zips attack with seven shots, including four on goal, followed by Adam Najem and Brenes, who finished with five shots apiece.

The Zips will have an opportunity to get back on track when they make a short trip north to take on Cleveland State Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.

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