On a sunny day at Lee Jackson Field a pair of former teammates became a foe.
The Columbus Crew defeated the host University of Akron men’s soccer team 1-0 in an exhibition match Sunday played with temperatures in the 80’s before a crowd of 1,563.
Matt Tutich and Ossie Michalsen, each a standout player at UA from 2005-2008, played for the Crew as fill-in players and Tutich scored the game’s lone goal.
Tutich started and played in both halves of the game. He netted a goal in the 48th minute when he headed the ball in the back left corner of the net. Alex Grendi got the assist.
"I am pleased for Matt," UA coach Caleb Porter said. "Matt Tutich is a good player. I am happy for him."
The Crew played the exhibition without several of their core players, including Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Eddie Gaven and Alejandro Moreno. Standouts Robbie Rogers and Pat Noonan did play and helped the Crew hold an advantage in shots (10-8), shots on goal (4-2) and corner kicks (6-3). Columbus also committed more fouls (15-7).
"I think we knew going into this game we had nothing to lose and everything to gain from the experience," Porter said. "The hope was to grow individually from the experience."
The Zips starters Sunday were David Meves at goal keeper; senior Ivan Sandoval, junior Chris Korb, sophomore Matt Dagilis (Firestone) and freshman Thomas Schmitt at defender; senior Ben Zemanski, sophomore Darlington Nagbe, junior Blair Gavin and senior C.J. Kaufman at midfielder; and freshman Yoram Mwila and sophommore Teal Bunbury at forward.
"Darlington Nagbe was fantastic," Porter said. "He was really tremendous all spring. Every single game he showed up and he was a difference maker for us. He is going to have a great fall. At times, he looked like he was the best player on the field."
Porter also praised the play of Gavin, Sandoval, Mwila and Bunbury.
"It was a good experience," said Zemanski, a Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy graduate. "It was a good environment to test your game and see where you stack up as an individual against them and where we stack up as a team against them."
Meves had three saves. Senior forward Stefan Ostergren (North Canton Hoover) and freshman defender Dominic Moore (Firestone) were the Zips only two reserves that played.
"I was pleased that we were in the game the whole time," Porter said. "To play a pro team with individual players that are making a living playing this sport and for us to show up minus some keys to the puzzle for this game was impressive."
The Zips were without five key players that played in the first three spring games. Sophomore Kofi Sarkodie and freshmen Chad Barson and Scott Caldwell missed the final two spring games because they are training with U.S. U-18 National Team. Sophomore Michael Nanchoff (Walsh Jesuit) and junior Anthony Ampaipitakwong were also held out of the last two games due to injury.
"I think our purpose this spring was to build a foundation for the fall," Porter said. "We wanted to schedule the caliber of teams in the spring that we will play in the fall. I think we gained a lot of confidence and believe that we can beat any team in the country if we play to our potential, and we proved that against Wake Forest. We still have a long ways to go going onto next fall to accomplishing our goal. Winning a national championship is not easy."
UA concluded the spring season with wins over Wake Forest (3-0), Oakland (2-0) and Michigan (4-0), a 1-1 tie versus North Carolina and a 2-0 loss against Indiana.