The University of Akron men’s soccer team turned up the pressure Sunday night in the second half against visiting Seattle University.
And once again, the Zips displayed a flair for the dramatic when junior Tyler Sanda scored a goal in the 88th minute after a perfect pass from senior Adam Najem to defeat the Redhawks 1-0 before a crowd of 2,380 at FirstEnergy Stadium-Cub Cadet Field.
Sanda’s goal came two nights after senior Brad Ruhaak scored the lone goal in the 90th minute to give the Zips to a 1-0 win over the Georgetown University Friday.
“After the first and second miss, I was like, ‘One of these has got to go in,’?” said Sanda, who entered the match as a reserve in the second half. “I think that was the hardest one to get. I was lucky that it was a good ball [played in by Najem].”
Sophomore Ben Lundt, a 6-foot-7 goalkeeper, recorded a shutout with eight saves for the Zips, ranked No. 1 in the country in the Soccer America poll and No. 2 in the NSCAA coaches and College Soccer News polls.
“It is awesome to sit here again and talk about a clean sheet again,” Lundt said. “We had a few problems, but I did my job today, and Ty came through in the end and things worked out.”
Sophomore RJ Noll, a 6-foot-1 goalkeeper, finished with five saves for the Redhawks, who are ranked No. 9 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com poll, 12th in the College Soccer News poll and 14th in the NSCAA coaches poll.
“This was an exciting game,” UA coach Jared Embick said. “In the first half they put us under a lot of pressure and we had to kind of survive at times. Thankfully, Ben made some key saves and kept us in the game [and] we re-organized at halftime.
“I thought in the second half we were the better team. It took us awhile to wear them down, but we did. We kept believing and kept pushing.”
The pitch was wet after a storm passed through Akron and delayed the start of Sunday’s match by about 20 minutes.
Lundt saved five Redhawks shots in the first half, turning away two attempts by Sergio Rivas and one attempt apiece by Ozzie Ramos, David Olsen and Anthony Ayala. Rivas added two more shots on goal in the second half and Jeff Rose added one.
The Zips had just one shot on goal in the first half and then generated five in the second half. That included a frantic final 20 minutes of regulation in which Najem and junior Nate Shultz each took shots that Noll saved, junior Sam Gainford kicked the ball off the crossbar, Sanda booted the ball over the crossbar and Gainford fired a shot that just missed the goal before Sanda found the net.
Embick credited the Zips’ “intensity level in training and the ability to wear teams out” as key factors in securing Sunday’s win.
“Sometimes it may take 70, 80 or 90 minutes, and this weekend it’s taken pretty much all 90, but we are playing top 10 teams,” Embick said.
Embick started Ruhaak, Shultz, Nick Hinds and Danilo Radjen as defenders in front of Lundt. Victor Souto and Najem contributed solid minutes as starters in the midfield.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.