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UA Men’s Soccer Season Ends In Overtime At Marquette

The University of Akron men’s soccer team saw its NCAA Tournament run come to an end in the second round with a 1-0 defeat to No. 9-seed Marquette in freezing temperatures and a rock-hard playing surface at Valley Fields Sunday night.

After a scoreless regulation, the Golden Eagles (13-5-2) bagged the Golden Goal in the first overtime period with just 23 seconds left. Coco Navarro, who got free when an Akron defender slipped and fell to the ground, finished a long cross from Adam Lysak to give Marquette its first NCAA Tournament win in program history.

“It was disappointing for two teams who like to play soccer to have their game decided by the conditions of the field,” said UA head coach Jared Embick. “But give Marquette credit. They found a way to make a play.”

“Both teams had to hit long balls in the channels to decide the game. It’s not what you want. Both teams had to adapt through it and unfortunately, a slip on the field hurt us in the moment, and (Marquette) capitalized.”

It was a startling conclusion for the Zips (17-4-1), who nearly won the match in regulation when Zac Portillos banged a liner off the right post in the 76th minute. Then, just five minutes into overtime, Akron thought it had won a penalty kick opportunity when Reinaldo Brenes appeared to be tackled from behind in the box but no call came.

With temperatures that hovered in the low 20s and wind that made it feel much colder, players on both sides struggled to get solid footing on the frozen pitch and the pace of play suffered as a result.

After being out-shot 10-5 in the first half, UA settled in after the break and had the better of play but couldn’t cash in. Third-year sophomore Jake Fenlason turned in another commendable performance with nine saves – the most by an Akron goalkeeper all season – in a losing effort.

Much of the action took place in the middle third of the field in the first half.

The Zips had their best chance of the half in the 34th minute when Eric Stevenson chipped a ball over a Marquette defender for Brenes, who was streaking down the left side of the field. Brenes took a quick touch to avoid the MU goalkeeper, who had come off his line, but couldn’t quite get control of it as his shot hit the side netting.

Fenlason had to make three saves in the opening period as the Zips dealt with a number of dangerous crosses by the Golden Eagles. MU’s best look came in the 27th minute when a cross found C. Nortey with space in the midde of the box but hooked it wide of the left post.

In all, the Golden Eagles, who captured their first Big East Tournament Championship last weekend, out-shot the Zips 19-15. With the win, Marquette advances to play at No. 8-seed Virginia in the third round of the NCAA Tournament next Sunday (Dec. 1).

UA Men’s Soccer Takes Down Indiana, Advances To NCAA Second Round

The University of Akron men’s soccer team scored a trio of goals in the first 48 minutes and then held on for a thrilling 3-2 victory over Indiana in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

With the win, the Zips (17-3-1) advance to play at No. 9-seed Marquette in the second round of the men’s soccer championships Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.

Senior striker Reinaldo Brenes led the UA attack with a pair of goals and third-year sophomore goalkeeper Jake Fenlason made seven saves – including three of the spectacular variety – in an entertaining 90 minutes of soccer that featured open play by both sides.

It was just the third career start for Fenlason, who made his collegiate debut against West Virginia in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament last weekend.

The Zips were also paced by senior Aodhan Quinn, who stayed red hot – adding a goal and an assist. The MAC Player of the Year has now scored a goal in each of his last three matches.

Akron flew out of the gates with a pair of goals in the first half. Brenes was the first to strike, taking Adam Najem’s long pass from midfield and firing a low liner across the goal from the near right flank past Hoosiers’ goalkeeper Colin Webb in just the seventh minute.

Quinn doubled up the Zips’ advantage in the 24th minute. Following a volley in front of the IU net, Quinn played a loose ball down to his feet, then slipped it inside the right post for his fifth goal in as many matches.

Although Akron dominated the scoreboard in the first half, it didn’t come without some dangerous moments from an Indiana side that was just as relentless on the attack throughout the match.

Minutes after Brenes gave UA a 1-0 lead, IU nearly got the goal back when Tommy Thompson got loose on a breakaway with only Fenlason to beat in the 19th minute. But the young keeper was up to the task, making the stop to keep the Hoosiers off the board.

UA added to its lead early in the second half when Brenes took a cross from Quinn and slotted Webb from straight on and it appeared as though the rout was on. But Indiana scored a pair of restart goals within two minutes of each other to cut the Zips’ lead to one.

Dylan Lax was first to break through for IU, scoring on a Patrick Doody corner kick in the 52th minute. Doody then served up another goal for the Hoosiers, this time connecting with Jacob Bushue in the 53rd minute.

Even before Indiana got on the scoreboard, the game nearly changed with rapid-fire shots just one minute following Brenes’ second goal of the game. IU’s Femi Hollinger-Janzen initiated the sequence by firing a rocket from just inside the 18 that Fenlason punched away.

Thompson was there for the rebound however and redirected it towards the goal but Fenlason was there to turn IU away again in a highlight-reel worthy sequence.

UA Men’s Soccer Tops WMU 4-1, Claims 10th MAC Tournament Title

The top-seeded University of Akron men’s soccer team scored twice in the first 13 minutes and never looked back in a 4-1 rout of No. 2-seed Western Michigan to win its 10th Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

For the second straight match, the Zips (16-3-1) established a season high for goals scored and saw one of its players find the back of the net more than once as Zac Portillos, who also assisted a goal, recorded his first career brace.

With the win, UA earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament and will make its seventh-consecutive appearance at the championships when the brackets are announced Monday at Noon. Zips Athletics will host an NCAA Men’s Soccer Selection Show Watch Party at the Student Union starting at 11:30 a.m.

For their performances this weekend, Adam Najem, Portillos, Aodhan Quinn and Eric Stevensonwere named to the All-MAC Tournament Team.

Akron, which defeated the Broncos 1-0 in Kalamazoo, Mich., to clinch the league’s regular season title last weekend, was in complete control throughout the match and allowed WMU’s goal long after many of its starters had been replaced.

Despite the lopsided score, it could have been much worse for Western Michigan (9-9-1) as the Zips had a pair of goals waved off for offsides and missed a penalty kick in the match’s fourth minute. In addition to allowing all four Akron goals, Broncos’ goalkeeper Chase Rau, who was one of three WMU representatives on the All-Tournament Team, recorded six saves.

UA, which out-shot WMU 11-0 in the first half, jumped on top early with a pair of goals coming just one minute and eight seconds apart.

Quinn recorded the first in the 12th minute when a ball played back by Reinaldo Brenes left him with space in front of the goal. The 2013 MAC Player of the Year made WMU pay with a rocket from 15 yards out that whistled into the back of the net.

Then in a flash, Portillos slipped a shot past Rau from a difficult angle – coming from the near right flank – to make it 2-0 at the 12:52 mark.

Akron pressed forward after halftime and Portillos sparked another Zips goal in the 50th minute when he let go of a blast from distance that was punched out by Rau. Continuing the play,  Brenes jumped on the rebound and slotted it home from straight on.

Portillos completed the brace in the 56th minute on another second-chance ball after Eric Stevenson’s shot was saved.

Western Michigan recorded its first shot of the match at 65:34 when Oliver Mayer sent his attempt high over the crossbar.

2013 MAC All-Tournament Team
Adam Najem, Akron
Zac Portillos, Akron
Aidhan Quinn, Akron
Eric Stevenson, Akron
Jamie O’Grady, Hartwick
Matthew Robertson, Hartwick
Andy Bevin, West Virginia
Craig Stephens, West Virginia
Connor Furgason, Western Michigan
Oliver Mayer, Western Michigan
Chase Rau, Western Michigan

Akron Men’s Soccer Takes Care Of West Virginia, Advances To MAC Title Game

Thanks to a pair of goals from former Columbus Crew academy product Eric Stevenson, the top-seeded University of Akron men’s soccer team cruised to a 3-0 victory over fourth-seeded West Virginia in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament Friday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

Photo Credit: Kaylee Durken/

The Zips (15-3-1) will play No. 2-seed Western Michigan, which defeated Hartwick 1-0 in the first semifinal of the day, for the MAC Championship Sunday at 1 p.m. To purchase your ticket, click, call 1-888-99-AKRON (25766) or go to Gate 1 of FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field starting at 12 p.m. Sunday.

In its first postseason match of the season, UA turned in its most dominant performance of the year, out-shooting WVU 22-9 overall and 7-2 on goal. Akron’s three goals scored represented a season high.

For Stevenson, it was his second two-goal performance of the fall and third of his career. The senior gave the Zips a 1-0 lead with just before halftime, then completed the brace in the 66th minute. It was also a big night for freshman Adam Najem, who assisted all three Akron goals. Najem now leads the Zips with eight helpers on the year.

Aodhan Quinn, who was named MAC Player of the Year for 2013 earlier in the day, rounded out the list of goal scorers for Akron. Quinn finished a beautiful combination play that started with quick passes from Najem and Zac Portillos in the 58th minute.

Third-year sophomore Jake Fenlason, who made his first career start in net, recorded a pair of saves to earn the shutout. West Virginia, which missed a penalty kick in the 81st minute, finished the fall with a record of 7-7-5.

UA out-shot the Mountaineers (7-7-5) 12-3 in the first half but it appeared the two teams would go into the half scoreless. But a West Virginia foul set up an Akron free kick from the left side of the field about five yards beyond the penalty area.

Najem, who was searching for Saad Abdul-Salaam, whipped his service into the box where it was deflected out by a WVU defender. But Stevenson jumped on the rebound and sent a side volley into the back of the net from 15 yards out.

After Quinn’s fifth goal of the year, which was also his third in three matches, Stevenson all but officially put the game out of reach with a goal set up nicely by Abdul-Salaam and Najem.

Abdul-Salaam ran down a ball that was headed towards the WVU end line and sent it back to Najem, who quickly played it to his left to Stevenson. Stevenson picked it up in stride and tapped it in from just inside the penalty stripe for his fifth goal of 2013.

The Zips will play for their 10th MAC Tournament Championship Sunday.

Match Photos 

Derschang the Hero for UA Against UM

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.