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.