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.