After his No. 9-ranked Zips battled No. 10 St. John’s to a 0-0 draw after 110 minutes, University of Akron soccer coach Caleb Porter called out a few of his players that he’d hoped would have a bigger impact in UA’s tournament game Friday night at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“I was disappointed overall with the group in overtime,” Porter said. “I wanted a little more, another level, another gear out of some of the key guys. Scott Caldwell is capable of doing better. He had a solid game, but we need him to step up and find a goal or an assist ... Thomas Schmitt.
“Eric Stevenson today for me was the man of the match. I thought he was a handful all game, but he still needs to produce. Renaldo (Brenes) I thought did well coming in in a tough situation, he hasn’t played a lot, he did a pretty good jub with what we wanted him to do. I think we were missing Alfred (Koroma) a little bit, he gives that game-changer. We’re not sure when he’s going to be back. We hope he gets back soon.”
The Zips (3-1-2) were playing without two starters. Junior Aodhan Quinn was out after being red-carded in UA’s last match, a loss at Notre Dame. Freshman striker Alfred Koroma was hospitalized with a staph infection and Porter said his availability is uncertain for Sunday’s match against No. 11 South Florida.
UA had a 9-7 edge in shots and 6-4 in corner kicks, but six of the Zips’ shots came in the first half. They had only one in the two 10-minute overtimes, while St. John’s (5-0-2) got off two in that span.
“Overall we need to create more,” Porter said. “We wanted to be on the ball a lot. St. John’s is a team that wants to push the tempo, keep us in our back half, press us and try to turn us over. I thought we did a pretty good job of breaking their pressure. We were the dominant team for most of the game.”
Porter thought St. John’s was at its best during a 10-minute stretch in the middle of the first half. He also believed the Redmen benefited from using five substitutes, while Porter played only two.
“They had some periods, I thought late they got a little stronger, they’re a very fit team. They made quite a few subs, I think that helped them; we made very few subs,” Porter said. “Other than (the middle of the first half) I thought we were clearly on the ball more and we ended up being in the front half.
“That’s a credit to our guys, we basically played the game on our terms. I know St. John’s likes to play the game on their terms. We won that battle. But we need to accelerate the game and penetrate a bit more.”
Porter also criticized his team for its lack of precision.
“I thought at times our final passes, our precision in the key moments – be it find a slot pass or a better angle on a cross or having a little bit more bravery or courage to get on the end of something in the box – some of those details we could have done better,” he said. “We had a couple chances that could have been goals, if we finish one of those we win the game.”
But Porter believed the Zips benefited from the tough competition.
“We were playing a good team, St. John’s is well coached, very organized, very fit,” Porter said. “It felt like a tournament-caliber game, which is good. We’ve played several of those already and it forces you as a team to find another level. I thought we went toe-to-toe with them all game. I thought we had maybe the better of the flow on the possession, probably created more dangerous chances than they did; they had a few. Their goalkeeper came up big on a couple. We had enough to maybe find a goal
“In the end it’s probably a fair result. We get a good RPI game out of it and a good result. If we’re going to win these kind of games we have to find another gear, individually and collectively.”
Zips sophomore defender DeAndre Yedlin was pleased that UA created more shots than St. John’s.
“We just need to get that final shot, that final pass down and hopefully we would go up 1-0,” Yedlin said. “It was a little disappointing we couldn’t find a goal, but it’s good that we were getting that many opportunities.”