University of Akron junior Jordan Clark stepped toward the ball during a key moment Sunday and made the most of her opportunity.
Clark scored a goal following a free kick and helped visiting UA earn a 1-0 win over host Kent State in a Mid-American Conference women's soccer match.
Clark's goal came from 24 yards away in the 87th minute and extended the Zips winning streak to five games.
UA (8-6-2, 6-3-1) has clinched a spot in the MAC Tournament for the first time in program history.
KSU (7-8-2, 3-5-2) was celebrating Senior Day and remain in the mix for the MAC Tournament.
Each team has one regular season game remaining.
Clark kicked the ball over a wall of KSU defenders and past Golden Flashes sophomore goalkeeper Kelly Sherwood, who dove for the ball and slightly deflected it into the right side of the net.
UA shutout their fifth opponent in a row and have six this season.
Zips sophomore goalkeeper Jeny Wolbert had two saves. Senior Heather Rains, junior Alysia Virkler, sophomore Liz Cloutier and senior Kristen Gregg were the Zips starting defenders. Junior Kyra Petrole, freshman Kaitlin Flanagan, junior Katelyn Hausfeld and freshman Jillian Chenot also contributed to the shutout as reserves.
UA held an advantage over KSU in shots on goal (5-1). The Flashes had more shots (14-11) and corner kicks (6-2).
Juniors Jordan Baranowski, Leigh Cullen and Andrea Schweisthal and senior Britni Back were also key offensively for the Zips.
Flashes senior Lauren Evans and junior Annie Messer stood out offensively. KSU's defenders -- sophomore Jenni Stapleton, freshman Sara Henderson, sophomore Gabi Ingram and senior Jackie Barath -- each played all 90 minutes.
UA has set a program record for MAC wins in a season with six and the five-game MAC winning streak is UA's longest since the school started offering women's soccer in 2001.
The KSU women still own a 7-2-0 advantage against the UA women. UA is 1-3-0 at KSU.
Quotes after the game
UA junior Jordan Clark:
‘‘I just cleared my mind of everything and just wasn't thinking. I was just going off reaction, which is usually the best thing to do for me.’’
‘‘This is a huge victory for us.’’
‘‘We have just really put our heads together and have been focusing on defense a lot for the past couple of years. Basically, not making any mental mistakes, keeping strong and all being on the same page has been key for us.’’
‘‘Our coach has really helped us a lot. He is awesome. We have learned to really come together as a team and play together. We are like a big family working hard together.’’
UA coach Chris Pfau
‘‘That's a great win. Kent State is a really well coached team and this is a tough place to play. It's one of those seasons where we are weathering the storm and when we get a chance we are finishing.’’
Pfau said his players have been ‘‘maintaining their focus and concentrating’’ defensively.
KSU coach Rob Marinaro
‘‘Both teams played with high intensity. They capitalized on one and took the points home with them.’’
Interesting side note
I found an interesting note when I checked out the UA men’s soccer media guide.
The University of Akron men’s soccer team compiled a perfect a 15-0-0 record against Kent State in a series that started in 1955 and ended in 1980 when KSU did away with the program.
The Zips outscored the Golden Flashes 62-9 over the course of the 15 victories.
UA is currently ranked No. 1 in the country in all five national polls.