By: Chris Coon
On Saturday night, sophomore forward Darren Mattocks posted the second hat trick of his career, leading The No. 4 University of Akron men’s soccer team to a 3-0 victory at Tulsa.
The Zips (5-0-2) remain unbeaten while improving their all-time record against Tulsa to 5-0.
“Obviously we won 3-0 so we feel good about that, but as a coaching staff and as a team, we’re not satisfied with the performance,” said UA Head Coach Caleb Porter. “We’re always striving to play better and to perform to our potential and I didn’t think we did that enough today consistently.”
Tulsa (4-4) recorded a total of 18 shots, but a great defensive effort by both freshman and junior defenders Bryan Gallego and Chad Barson minimized most of the Golden Hurricanes’ scoring opportunities. Junior goalkeeper David Meves had a season-high seven saves while being credited for UA’s fifth shutout in seven matches this season.
“I thought in particular Chad Barson and Bryan Gallego were tremendous tonight, and you know we’re going to need them to be,” Porter said. “I thought Gallego as a freshman looked like a man today and Chad looked like the captain we needed. I thought those two guys held it together for us until we got the second and third goals to put it away.”
Mattocks scored the first of three goals in the ninth minute of the first quarter after freshman defender DeAndre Yedlin won the ball just past midfield, where he passed the ball to Mattocks, who was behind Tulsa’s backline.
UA early on had another opportunity to score in the 18th minute as junior midfielder Thomas Schmitt lined the ball from the near left side of the field, only to see his shot bang right off the cross bar. It was one of many opportunities for the Zips in the first 45 minutes, but they could not add to their lead, and settled for a 1-0 advantage into the break.
“At one-zero it got dangerous,” said Porter. “I thought we made it harder than it should have been. If we would have moved the ball quicker and got a grip on the game sooner and finished our chances, then we could’ve put the game away a lot sooner than we did. From that stand point, I think we leave the game happy we won but not satisfied with our performance.”
In the 55th minute Akron added to their lead when Mattocks finished off a run by freshman midfielder Will Trapp. Trapp was able to make room near the right goal post for Mattocks, who fired a shot past a diving Tulsa goalkeeper Michael Murray.
Mattocks in the 87th minute finished his quest for a hat trick after receiving a pass off the foot of sophomore midfielder Reinaldo Brenes. The three goals in the game by Mattocks elevated him to the Zips’ leading scorer on the team with seven.
“I thought Darren Mattocks was a handful,” Porter said. “He probably should’ve scored five or six goals, but in the end he scored three and he finished the ones he needed to and that was the difference on the day.”
With Saturday’s win, Porter notched in his 95th win of his coaching career, while Akron improved to 62-0-1 when leading at halftime. The Zips also have a record 77 shutouts in 120 games all-time under Porter.
The Zips have been defeated just once during the regular season play in their last 56 matches, since the start of the 2009 season.
Mattocks last recorded a hat trick in a win against Buffalo last season. Overall, Mattocks finished the Tulsa match with a game-high eight shots, including five on frame, while now having scored seven goals in six matches this fall.
The Zips will return to play this Wednesday when they take on Ohio State at First Energy Stadium-Cub Cadet Field. The game will kick off against the Buckeyes at 7:30 p.m.
The Akron Athletics Department will be hosting “UA Pride Night” on Wednesday and are encouraging all fans to turn in an Ohio State t-shirt in exchange for an Akron t-shirt. All Ohio State t-shirts will be donated.