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MT. PLEASANT, S.C. – Senior Aodhan Quinn finished a beautiful combination play to break a scoreless tie in the 80th minute as the No. 8 University of Akron men's soccer team posted a 2-0 victory at the College of Charleston Friday night on the first day of the Nike/Aaron Olitsky Memorial Classic.
It was the first match of the season for either team and the first career win for Jared Embick as the head coach of the Zips.
Eric Stevenson initiated the game-winning play by running a ball down just before it crossed the Cougars' end line and played it back to Matt Foldesy, who found Quinn with space in front of the net with a quick back heel. Quinn fired a rocket across the goal, past the diving keeper and into the far corner of the net. It was the fourth career game-winning goal for Quinn at Akron.
The decisive strike followed a straight red card shown to CofC midfielder Ike Crook, who was booked for a hard tackle of Robbie Derschang in the 70th minute.
Akron added another tally thanks to an own goal in the 87th minute to put the game away. Adam Najem, who was trying to find Saad Abdul-Salaam with his corner kick service from the left side of the field, saw his ball deflect off the back of a Cougars' defender and into the net.
It was a fair end result as the Zips out-shot the host College of Charleston 23-5 overall and 11-3 on goal. Akron also earned seven corner kicks while limiting CofC to one.
The contest could have easily gotten out of hand much sooner had it not been for the terrific play of Cougars' goalkeeper Kees Heemskerk, who finished with nine saves. Conversely, Zips' freshman keeper Fernando Pina recorded three saves of his own to earn his first win and shutout as a Zip.
Despite out-shooting the Cougars 11-3 in the first half, Akron found itself in a scoreless tie heading into the break. CofC was the aggressor early on with a pair of shots on frame in the first 13 minutes of play but the Zips quickly regained control and dominated possession the rest of the way.
Senior Eric Stevenson and Quinn were particularly active with a combined eight shots in the first 45 minutes, including three attempts on frame. The Zip's best chance came in the 33rd minute when a quick series of passes from Saad Abdul-Salaam and Najem left Quinn with space at the top of the box. But Heemskerk, who had four saves in the first half, dove to his left to snag the liner.
The Zips will next face Furman, which defeated Xavier 4-3 in overtime in the first match of the tournament, Sunday at 12 p.m. ET.
Zips Notebook: Akron has won its last seven season openers, dating back to the 2007 season, and is 17-3-1 in its first game of the year since 1993 ... Frirday's match represented the first ever meeting between the Zips and Cougars.