October 20, 2012

Men's Soccer Guts Out 2-1 MAC Win Over West Virginia

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AKRON, Ohio
– The No. 3 University of Akron men's soccer team earned a 2-1 victory over West Virginia Saturday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field in a key clash between the top two teams in the Mid-American Conference.

With the win, the Zips (11-1-2, 5-0-0 MAC) earned a big leg up on the Mountaineers (8-4-2, 3-1-1 MAC) in the chase for the league's regular-season championship and the right to host the conference tournament. As a result, UA will have the opportunity to clinch its eighth consecutive regular-season title with a win or tie in either of its last two league matches at Hartwick (Oct. 27) or against Western Michigan (Nov. 3).

Akron scored single goals in each half – the first from Reinaldo Brenes in the fifth minute and the second from Scott Caldwell in the 50th minute – to push its win streak to eight matches and unbeaten streak to nine.

WVU became the first opponent to score a goal at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field in seven home matches this season in the 52nd minute when Zips goalkeeper David Meves lost his footing and couldn't make a play on a shot by Majed Osman from the top of the box. Ironically, it was the only shot allowed by UA in the second half.

It was also the first goal allowed by the Zips in their last nine matches, snapping a string of 713 consecutive scoreless minutes.

Nonetheless, Akron earned the result despite intermittent rain, which was heavy at times, and a slippery field. For the match, Akron out-shot West Virginia 8-6 overall and 5-2 on goal.

UA wasted little time establishing control with the match's first goal at the 4:09 mark. Bryan Gallego recorded the first assist of his career by sending a long ball from beyond midfield to Brenes, who took the pass in stride on the left flank and chipped the ball over WVU goalkeeper Pat Eavenson, who had come off his line.

It was the eighth goal of the season for Brenes, who has done all his scoring in the Zips' past five matches.

Alfred Koroma opened a flurry of activity with a long run early in the second half. After shaking his mark, the true freshman left the ball for Aodhan Quinn, who fired a low liner past Eavenson toward the right corner of the net from 12 yards out.

Quinn's shot was cleared off the line by a WVU defender but Serna gained possession on the left side of the field before crossing it to Caldwell, who slotted the keeper from straight on to give the Zips a 2-0 lead at the 49:35 mark. It was also the eighth goal of the season for Caldwell, who netted his second game-winner on the year.

WVU cut the lead in half at 51:30 but that's as close as it would get.

Akron will begin its final road trip of the regular season next week, starting with a match at Ohio State Tuesday at 8 p.m. (ET). The contest will be broadcast locally and on-line by Fox Sports 1350 AM (WARF) as well as televised nationally by the Big Ten Network.

Zips Notebook: Akron picked up its sixth-straight win against West Virginia and improved to 9-2-1 all-time against the Mountaineers ... the Zips are unbeaten at home this season (6-0-1) and have lost just once in their last 58 contests (51-1-6) at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field, dating back to 2008 ... UA is 106-3-4 when it scores first and 87-1-3 when it scores two or more goals since 2006 ... senior defender Chad Barson started and played all 90 minutes after missing the previous two matches due to injury.