Sophomore Darlington Nagbe posted the first hat trick of his collegiate career Tuesday and in the process kept the perfect season going for the University of Akron men's soccer team.
Nagbe’s three goals and one assist performance led the top-ranked Zips to a 5-1 victory over host Michigan at U-M Soccer Complex in Ann Arbor.
UA, the No. 1 team in the country in all five national polls under coach Caleb Porter, has a 14-0-0 overall record, which is the best start to a season in program history.
“Obviously we are pleased that we were able to get a result against a talented team that is battled tested,” Porter said. “We knew it would be a little more open game. We have not played a lot of teams that have played toe-to-toe with us. A lot of teams we have played sit back and don't come at us. I was excited to play a team that would come out at us. I thought we rose to the challenge and our attacking unit was electric.”
UA held an advantage in shots (22-8), shots on goal (8-4) and corner kicks (4-2).
It is the first time the Zips have defeated the Wolverines (9-4-1) at Michigan in four attempts and UA leads the overall series 5-3.
Nagbe assisted on the first goal of the game then scored twice in less than a minute to guide UA to a 3-0 lead at halftime.
“With Darlington, there is no secret. If you are in our training sessions or watch us play consistently you see that he is one of the best players in the country, hands down,” Porter said. “He is capable of scoring a lot of goals.”
Sophomore Teal Bunbury gave the Zips a 1-0 lead with a goal, his team-high 11th of the season, in the 31st minute. Nagbe and sophomore Kofi Sarkodie were each credited with an assist on the goal.
“Teal and Darlington are such a handful up top with their speed and skill,” Porter said.
Nagbe extended the lead to 3-0 with an unassisted goal in the 35th minute, and a goal in the 36th minute that freshman Ben Speas recorded an assist on.
Michigan cut its deficit to 3-1 when Justin Meram netted a goal in the 48th minute off of an assist from Hamoody Saad.
UA took a 4-1 advantage when sophomore Michael Nanchoff scored a goal, his fifth this season, in the 52nd minute. Senior Ben Zemanski and junior Chris Korb each received an assist on the goal.
Nagbe concluded the scoring in the 63rd minute with a goal off of an assist by breshman Yoram Mwila.
UA plays their final away game of the regular season at Buffalo on Friday at 7:30 p.m.