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

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.