The University of Akron men’s soccer team came up short in its attempt to end No. 3 Denver’s (2-0-0) 36-match regular-season unbeaten streak on Monday night.

A penalty kick by Graham Smith in the 45th minute (44:39) propelled the host Pioneers to a 1-0 victory over the Zips (0-2-0).

“That was a tough defeat,” UA coach Jared Embick said in a news release. “We played well all game, especially second half. Denver was tough and organized and we just couldn’t find the breakthrough. We need to continue to improve in final third and to bring the effort again on Friday. After playing two top-20 teams on the road, we have to get ready for a top-10 team at home and we need our fans to get behind this team.”

The Zips outshot the Pioneers 4-3 in the first half but the game came down to a play in the final minute of the half.

Junior goalkeeper Ben Lundt was called for a foul in the box in the 45th minute (44:39) that resulted in the penalty kick for Smith.

A shot on goal by senior Manuel Cordeiro in the 59th minute nearly tied the score for UA, but Denver goalkeeper Nick Gardner made the save.

The Zips finished the match outshooting the Pioneers 10-5 and had a 5-1 edge in corner kicks but could not score the equalizer.

UA opens its home season against No. 11 Washington at 7 p.m. Friday at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.