The atmosphere and style of play were drastically different Saturday afternoon at Cochrane Field, but the University of Akron men's soccer team made the necessary adjustments.
The top-ranked Zips earned a 2-0 win in the Mid-American Conference opener for UA (3-0-0) and host Bowling Green (0-1-2) before a crowd of 513 fans.
UA entered the match after securing a 3-0 win at North Carolina and a 2-0 win at Wake Forest. UNC and Wake are each nationally ranked and play before crowds of thousands of people.
''We were bit a concerned about this game,'' UA coach Caleb Porter said. ''There is always a natural letdown after a couple of results like we had last weekend. We knew it would be a challenge, a different kind of game against a team that sits back, plays for restarts and is big and strong.''
Zips junior defender Kofi Sarkodie netted a goal in the 64th minute off an assist by freshman forward Darren Mattocks.
''It was our first conference game, and it is always important to start out with a win,'' Sarkodie said. ''I am happy with the win, but it is a long season and we have to just keep going forward.''
Mattocks scored a goal in the 81st minute.
“Bowling Green is very competitve,” Mattocks said. “I thought we totally dominated the game.
“I am happy we stayed disclipined and came out victorius.”
UA held an advantage in shots (29-6), shots on goal (13-3) and corner kicks (13-2).
''I thought we were pretty sharp in our buildup, but we could have been better in the final third,'' Porter said. ''We allowed Bowling Green to hang around longer than we wanted them to. In the end, we scored two goals and we got the shutout.''
Zips sophomore goalkeeper David Meves got the shutout in front of the starting defenders; Sarkodie, senior Chris Korb, and sophomores Chad Barson and Zarek Valentin.
The Zips starters at midfield were senior Anthony Ampaipitakwong, redshirt junior Michael Nanchoff, sophomore Scott Caldwell and freshman Perry Kitchen.
“Perry Kitchen in particular, was an animal today,” Porter said. “He won every header in the air.
“He did a good job of doing a lot of the little things for us.”
Mattocks and junior Darlington Nagbe started at forward.
“Darren gave a tremendous individual effort,” Porter said. “He has continued to show he is capable of producing goals."
Zips sophomores Ben Speas and Thomas Schmitt entered as reserves with redshirt freshman Eric Stevenson, freshmen McKauly Tulloch and Martin Ontiveros and red-shirt junior Matt Dagilis.
UA hosts Cal State Northridge at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
''We are looking forward to playing at home Friday,'' Porter said. ''Our guys are anxious to get back home.''