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DEKALB, Ill. – The No. 3 University of Akron men's soccer team gained sole possession of first place in the Mid-American Conference with a 2-0 victory versus Northern Illinois on a damp and windy Saturday afternoon at NIU Soccer Complex.
In doing so, the Zips (9-1-2, 4-0-0 MAC) extended their win streak to six matches and pushed their run of consecutive shutouts to seven while out-shooting the defending MAC Tournament Champion Huskies, 18-8.
UA is now unbeaten in its last 42 conference matches (39-0-3), which is tied with Clemson (1972-80) for the second-longest run in NCAA history. Furman, which owns the all-time standard, went unbeaten in 46 straight league contests from 1999-2003.
Akron used bookend goals to finish off the Huskies, who fell to 3-7-2 overall and 2-1-0 in conference play. Freshman Phil Fives scored his first career goal shortly after the opening whistle and Reinaldo Brenes stayed white hot with his seventh goal in four matches in the 85th minute.
NIU did its part to chop up play with 19 fouls and six yellow cards – including three in a 15-second span in the first half. Rocco Taglia was sent off in the 57th minute after being shown his second caution.
The Zips wasted little time taking control, scoring the game's first goal in just the second minute following an Akron corner kick.
Aodhan Quinn played the corner short to Scott Caldwell, who connected with Dillon Serna on a combination play before crossing the ball to Fives on the near left flank. Fives came through by putting the ball away from six yards out to give UA an early lead at the 1:31 mark.
It was Akron's quickest goal of the year and spearheaded a relentless attack, which saw the Zips earn five shots and as many corner kicks in the first eight minutes of the contest. It was a dominant opening period in all for UA, which out-shot Northern Illinois 14-2 but couldn't add on to its lead.
The Huskies nearly made the Zips pay in the 55th when Jayson Leseth fired a liner through a block of defenders but UA goalkeeper David Meves threw a glove up at the last second to punch it away. Northern Illinois had a couple more chances as it pushed for the equalizer but Meves, who finished with five saves, was there to make the stop each time.
For his efforts, Meves earned the 47th shutout of his four-year career and now trails the school's all-time leader, Evan Bush (2005-08), by just one in that category.
To cap off the scoring, DeAndre Yedlin sprung Brenes with a through ball from midfield at the 84:39 mark. Brenes, who has found the back of the net at least once in Akron's last four matches, finished from the top of the box to put the game away.
The Zips will next return home for another two-game homestand starting next week. Akron will host Michigan Tuesday before welcoming the MAC's newest member West Virginia Saturday for a key conference clash. Both matches will start at 7:30 p.m. (ET) at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
Zips Notebook: Akron was forced to play without starters Chad Barson and Robbie Derschang, who were held out due to injuries ... the Zips have not allowed a goal in their last 571:30 of play ... UA improved to 104-3-4 when scoring first and 86-1-3 when scoring at least two goals since 2006 ... Akron leads the all-time series with Northern Illinois, 19-3-1, and has defeated the Huskies in each of the schools' last eight meetings ... the Zips improved to 44-2-3 all-time against the MAC under seventh-year head coach Caleb Porter.