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AKRON, Ohio – Despite soggy field conditions that slowed play through the majority of the match, the No. 15 University of Akron men's soccer team gutted out a 1-0 victory over Bowling Green Saturday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
The game served as the Mid-American Conference opener for both teams.
The Zips (5-2-0, 1-0-0 MAC), who have won at least a share of the last eight MAC regular-season championships, got a first-half goal from Reinaldo Brenes and held on for their 15th consecutive win over the Falcons. With the result, UA also pushed its NCAA record-setting conference unbeaten streak to 48 matches (45-0-3) while out-shooting BGSU 20-9 overall and 7-3 on goal.
Akron was in control throughout the match and had a number of quality scoring chances early but didn't break through until the 44th minute.
Eric Stevenson, who was a big factor throughout the contest, sprung Brenes with a through ball just as the senior slipped through the Falcons' back line. Brenes took a quick touch before squaring up a rocket that whistled past the keeper and into the back corner of the net from 12 yards out.
Brenes, a team tri-captain, has been a real spark to the Zips' attack this season as all three of his goals have been game-winners. In all, it was his seventh career game-winner in a Zips uniform.
It very well could have been the second or third goal of the first half for Brenes, who rang the cross bar with a flying header in the 27th minute and was turned away from close range in the 31st minute.
Nonetheless, for the first time this season, Akron took a lead into halftime with just its second first-half goal of the fall.
The game opened up a bit in the second half as Bowling Green (1-4-2, 0-1-0) pushed for the equalizer, but Akron limited the Falcons' chances and were rarely threatened. Conversely, UA pressured the Bowling Green goal often – out-shooting BGSU 10-4 after the break – but couldn't add on to its lead.
Akron had a particularly dangerous series midway through the second half that featured a trio of shots on goal by Adam Najem, Zac Portillos and Stevenson – but the Falcons' keeper, Michael Wiest, who finished with five saves.
Freshman goalkeeper Fernando Pina recorded three saves to earn his third clean sheet of the season.
The Zips will wrap up their four-game homestand Tuesday night when in-state rival Ohio State pays visit to FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field for a 7 p.m. ET kick. The game will be broadcast locally on the radio by FOX Sports 1350 AM (WARF) as well as streamed on NSCAATV.com as the NSCAA College Game of the Week.
Zips Notebook: Akron sported their new blue uniforms for the first time Saturday ... UA played without starters Aodhan Quinn and Saad Abdul-Salaam, who were each scratched due to injury ... Saturday's match maked the Zips debut of freshman forward Riley Grant, who entered the match in the 85th minute ... all but one of UA's matches this fall have been decided by one goal.