The University of Akron men's soccer team closed out the month of September with another record crowd and another impressive victory.
No. 1 UA defeated Ohio State 3-0 on a chilly Wednesday night in front of a sellout crowd of 2,473 at Lee Jackson Field.
Junior midfielder Blair Gavin, sophomore forward Darlington Nagbe and senior midfielder Ben Zemanski each scored a goal for the Zips, and sophomore midfielder Michael Nanchoff had two assists.
The Zips, ranked No. 1 in the country in all five national polls, improved their overall record to 8-0-0. The Buckeyes, a consensus top-15 team in the five polls, drop to 5-1-3.
The second sellout crowd of the season at Lee Jackson Field enjoyed a spirited match, which featured physical play consistently from both teams. The previous largest crowd at Lee Jackson Field came earlier this season when 2,443 fans attended the UA/Indiana game on Sept. 18, a match the Zips won over the Hoosiers 1-0.
UA controlled the ball for a majority of the game and held an advantage in shots (20-3), shots on goal (7-2) and corner kicks (8-1).
Gavin gave the Zips a 1-0 lead after scoring a goal on a penalty kick with 20:37 remaining in the first half. Nagbe was fouled on the play in the box, which allowed Gavin to right-foot the ball into the net from seven yards away into the bottom left corner past a diving attempt by Buckeyes redshirt freshman goalkeeper Matt Lampson.
Nagbe extended the Zips lead to 2-0 with 37:30 left in the second half when he headed the ball into the net from 10 yards away. Nanchoff got the assist after lobbing a pass over the OSU defense.
Zemanski gave UA a 3-0 lead with 22:23 remaining the second half when he kicked the ball into the net from seven yards away. Nanchoff received the assist after sending a pass.
Zips freshman goalkeeper David Meves posted his sixth shutout of the season with the assistance of starting defenders: junior Chris Korb, sophomore Kofi Sarkodie and freshmen Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson. The Zips have outscored opponents 23-1 this season and shutout seven teams.
- UA is 3-0 this season against teams in the Top 15 and 2-0 versus Big Ten schools.
- UA is 24-6-2 all-time against OSU, and 14-1-1 at Lee Jackson Field.
- Nanchoff leads the Zips in assists with seven and sophomore forward Teal Bunbury leads UA in goals with five.
- The Zips starting lineup had Meves at goalkeeper; Korb, Sarkodie, Valentin and Barson as defenders; Gavin, Nanchoff, Zemanski and junior Anthony Ampaipitakwong as midfielders and Nagbe and Bunbury as forwards. The two reserves that played Wednesday night were freshmen midfielders Ben Speas and Scott Caldwell.
- Following the game, Nanchoff credited Zips assistant coach Jared Embick for working with the team on "set pieces" in practices.
- The Zips have shutout 44 opponents in 71 games under fourth-year coach Caleb Porter.
- The Zips are 36-0-0 when leading at halftime since 2006, Porter’s first season. Porter has a 53-11-7 record at UA.
- UA has out-shot its opponents this season 135-32.
"I thought it was a pretty dominant performance, especially against a good team. We were able to get on the ball and do what we want to do, and that's open them up. I thought our spacing was very good, and our speed of play and our movement really gave them problems once we settled in."
"They (OSU) got tired. I thought especially in the second half. We were able to wear them down quite a bit. I am very pleased, but the scary thing is we are just scratching the service. We can still get a lot better."
"We have got to continue to get better. The thing about this team that I am enjoying is they are getting better. They come to training with the right attitude and approach. It’s the little things that we need to get better at, it’s not the major things. The little things will add up over the long haul."
"We’re clicking. We are starting to gel on the attack."
"Defensively, we have been rock solid. A big part of that is we are possessing the ball so much and dictating the game … it’s difficult for teams to get close to our goal and get shots, but when they do break out, our backline is just their to put out fires. If there is a shot, our goalkeeper is ready to deal with it. There is not much, but there ready for the counter attacks."
"We haven’t given up a restart goal all year and those are areas where I think teams can get chances on us, but there not."
"One of our goals is to be undefeated at home at Lee Jackson Field. We feel like playing at home in front of our fans, and in front of the AK-Rowdies, we are very difficult to beat."
"We wanted to finish this stretch of our journey with a win and I was pleased we could do that. The record crowd was special. I can't thank the fans enough for their support. It means a lot to our players and it really helps drive us. Going into that second half, our guys were just licking their chops, knowing we were going towards that goal with the AK-Rowdies there. It gives us that little extra incentive and motivation to score."
"Now we have to go on the road for four games. We have two conference and two non-conference games. We have difficult tests ahead. We have to keep it going and take it one game at a time."
"A nice thing is we’re getting better and growing without losing. That is one thing we have talked about, you don’t have to lose to learn and grow. We’re learning while winning, and that is one of the things we want to do along this journey. It’s important to win these games in order to be in position, going into the NCAA Tournament, where we can get home games and be a top seed. When we’re at home, we’re a tough team to beat."
"We have a lot of confidence and technical ability. We want to keep the ball in their end because that is where we are dangerous."
"Consistency, that is what we talk about nonstop. Our coach talks to us about being the aggressor."
"The team trusts me to take those penalty kicks and once (Nagbe) went down I knew I had confidence to make it. I have confidence everytime that I am going to make it."