The second overtime was nearing a conclusion Sunday, and the University of Akron men’s soccer team needed a win.
Senior forward Eric Stevenson and freshmen midfielder Adam Najem knew it and made it happen in the 105th minute to give UA a 2-1 victory over San Diego State before a crowd of 1,820 in the UA Tournament at FirstEnergy Stadium-Cub Cadet Field.
“There wasn’t that much time left so we tried to hurry up and get the corner [kick], and basically Adam just took it down and set it,” Stevenson said. “No one had picked me up. I was standing on the end line. He chipped a perfect ball over the defender and right onto my foot. I didn’t have to do much. I just turned and hit it. I had a pretty clean look at the goal and it went in. It was a great play by Adam.”
Stevenson celebrated the triumph by peeling off his jersey top and running into the arms of several teammates. “[Senior] Zac [Portillos] caught it,” Stevenson said. “I looked behind me, and he was twirling it in the air.”
Stevenson provided both goals for the Zips (4-2-0), who rebounded after losing to visiting Virginia Commonwealth University 1-0 Friday.
The Zips’ win against the Aztecs (2-3-0) is also the first at home for coach Jared Embick.
“This feels great,” Stevenson said. “I have been here for 4½ years with him. I respect the man for everything he does. He is a great coach and an awesome guy. To be able to get the goals to give him his first win at home is a great moment for me.”
UA held an edge Sunday in shots (26-6), shots on goal (10-2) and corner kicks (11-6).
Stevenson gave the Zips a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute with a goal, but the Aztecs tied the score 15 seconds later when senior Abraham Villon netted a goal after a defensive lapse just in front of Akron’s goal. Aztecs senior Kody Duff got the assist.
“The goal was perfect and then I am not sure what we were thinking on the goal we gave up,” Embick said. “That was disappointing because it goes from being 1-0 with momentum and maybe us being able to get two or three before they recover, but they recovered. That also hurt us because we lost patience and we started kicking the ball, which we didn’t want to do.
“We regrouped at halftime and I think then it was a battle with ourselves. Can we believe that we are going to score the goal? We created a lot, like we have been. Finally Eric, he is a senior. That is great for him. I am happy for him. He mentioned to me he didn’t feel like he played great the other day and the team needed him today. He showed up big time. He was probably our best player on the day, and he was rewarded with two goals.’’
Stevenson, who recorded his second two-goal match in his college career, started at forward with senior Reinaldo Brenes and junior Saad Abdul-Salaam. Najem started at midfield with senior Aodhan Quinn and freshman Victor Souto. … Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Fernando Pina made one save. The starting defensive unit was senior Robbie Derschang, freshmen Brett Gravatt and Louis Cross and sophomore Andrew Souders. … Portillos overcame a recent hamstring injury to play 22 minutes as a reserve. Junior defender Bryan Gallego sat out due to a groin strain.