No. 20 Akron soccer to take on No. 15 Wake Forest

By Tyler Novak

The No. 20 ranked University of Akron men’s soccer team (8-3-0) will play host to No. 15 ranked Wake Forest University (6-2-4) on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m.

The Zips, coming off a 2-1 win over Cleveland State University last Wednesday, will be looking for their ninth win this season. The Demon Deacons of Wake Forest have looked strong this season, as the Deacons have a 2-2-3 record against ranked opponents this season already.

The Zips will have a full slate on offensive threats to defend. Wake Forest has four scorers who have three or more goals already on the season. One is Sean Okoli, who leads Wake Forest with four goals.

Akron, on the other hand, has three main scorers. Reinaldo Brenes leads the way with four goals. Wake Forest has the upper hand when it comes to scoring, as the Deacons have scored 20 times this season, while the Zips have scored only 13.

This match up will be intense for 90 minutes as both teams try to remain ranked. This match will also have a big impact on the NCAA

On defense, both teams are solid. The Zips have been dominant controlling possession this season, along with providing the necessary power-hungry defense needed to maintain the five shut-outs the Zips have secured so far this season.

The Deacons have been aggressive defensively, helping to secure their four shut-outs on the season in their tough schedule.

This game could well come down to who has the better keeper. Akron and Wake Forest have outstanding goalies; both with near-equal numbers coming into this game. Alec Ferrell has recorded 32 saves for the Deacons, with an 80 percent save rate, according to Wake Forest’s website. Andrew Harris, the Deacons’ back-up keeper, has also posted some impressive numbers as well. In two matches Harris has allowed two goals and an impressive 13 saves (with a career high of seven) and nearly an 87 percent save rate.

Fernando Piña, Akron’s starting goalkeeper, has 24 saves for the Zips and has a save rate of 75 percent, according to Akron Athletics. Piña and Ferrell have allowed eight goals apiece, showing just how equal the two have been this season.

Piña was named MAC player of the week and has improved immensely from the first game of the season.

Key players to watch in this ranked match-up are Wake Forest’s junior forward Sean Okoli and Akron’s freshman midfielder Adam Najem. Okoli has been a major asset to the Deacons the last three seasons, providing Wake Forest with a career high 11 goals last season.

Okoli has four already this season and is a major threat to any defense. His presence on the field is one the Zips will have to be able to contain in order to be successful.

Najem has been on fire lately, scoring two goals last week against Cleveland State. Najem has shown that he is one of the best midfielders in the country, with his aggressive style of play, along with talent alongside him. Look for Najem to continue his breakout season with the Zips.

The Zips and the Deacons should come out strong with the intensity high. Filled with tough defense, amazing offense, and some of the best defensive goalies in the country, these two top-20 teams go head-to-head at 7 p.m. on Tuesday evening at FirstEnergy Stadium.