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AKRON, Ohio – The No. 9 University of Akron men's soccer team played No. 10 St. John's to a scoreless draw in front of 3,034 fans Friday at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
The match was televised nationally on FOX Soccer Channel and served as the second game of the annual University of Akron Tournament. No. 11 South Florida, which will be the Zips' next foe Sunday at 7:30 p.m., tied Butler 2-2 in the first contest of the day.
In a back-and-forth match, UA (3-1-2) had the better scoring chances but couldn't cash in as St. John's goalkeeper Rafael Diaz made a number of spectacular saves to turn away the Zips. With the draw, the Red Storm stayed unbeaten on the season with a record of 5-0-2.
Akron's Eric Stevenson and Reinaldo Brenes led all players with three shots apiece and each had potential game-winners stopped by Diaz, who finished with four saves on the night.
The first came in the 43rd minute when Steveson took a cross near the top of the box and sent in a liner that was pushed just over the cross bar by the junior netminder. Then, with less than four minutes left in the second half, Brenes broke away from the pack and tried to tuck a shot inside the far post. But Diaz dove to his left to smother the shot and send the game into overtime.
Scott Caldwell also had a great look in the first half when he turned and fired a rocket from 17 yards that was headed for the upper right 90. But Diaz dove to his right to punch it away.
Akron goalkeeper David Meves was also up to the task with three saves of his own. His first stop early in the second half was of the spectacular variety as well as he scooped up a low liner by St. John's Andres Vargas, who was leading a Red Storm counter attack. It was one of just three shots on goal allowed by the Zips on the night.
Despite Diaz's standout play, Akron's best chance may have come in the 85th minute when a great far-post cross by DeAndre Yedlin just missed the head of Brenes, who was crashing through box unmarked in front of an open net.
For the match, the Zips out-shot St. John's, 9-7 and earned six corner kicks to STJ's four. It was the third shutout of the season for Akron, which improved to 8-2-4 in its last 14 regular-season matches against NSCAA top-25 teams.
UA was forced to play without a pair of starters Friday; Aodhan Quinn, who was suspended for one match after being sent off in the Zips' last contest at Notre Dame, and Alfred Koroma, who missed the game due to illnes.
The Zips and Bulls will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET, Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field in the final match of The University of Akron Tournament. Butler and St. John's will have the earlier game that day with a Noon kick off.