Mattocks leads Zips to 2-0 victory over NIU

By: Chris Coon

After a tough 3-2 loss in overtime to No. 19 UC Santa Barbra this past Wednesday, the No. 3 University of Akron men’s soccer team got back to form, defeating Northern Illinois 2-0 on Saturday night at First Energy Stadium-Cub Cadet Field.

The Zips (8-1-2, 2-0-0 Mid-American Conference) wasted no time getting on the board as sophomore forward Darren Mattocks scored the first of two goals of the night in the 16th minute of play.

“Darren Mattocks continues to be lethal scoring two more goals,” UA Head Coach Caleb Porter said. “He is really hitting his form and stride. He is showing he is pretty special.”

UA limited Northern Illinois (8-3-0, 0-2-0) to just three shots all night, while dominating in shots 13-3 and shots on goal 6-1.

With the win, Akron has now extended their NCAA unbeaten streak to 44 games (41-0-3), while also extending their undefeated conference record to 33 games, which is the fifth-longest run in NCAA history.

“Overall, considering the emotional game on Wednesday, the loss, it was a tough turnaround travel-wise and a physically difficult turnaround, too,” Porter said. “All those things considered, I am pleased with the result.”

The two out of three shots that the Huskies did have were from a far enough distance that they sailed wide each time in the first half. However, the third shot came from a direct kick, but junior goalkeeper David Meves was able to come up with the save. This was UA’s seventh shutout of the season.

In the 32nd minute of play, the Zips were able to add to their lead once again, as Mattocks was able to sink the ball into the net for his second goal of the night and tenth of the season, giving Akron a 2-0 lead.

“That is my job, basically,” Mattocks said. “That is what I am in there for, to lead the team forward in goal-scoring. Ten goals are pretty good, but I am still not pleased with that. I know I still have to get a whole lot better.”

The goal was set up by senior forward Luke Holmes, who slipped the ball to Mattocks, who was just behind the Huskies back line. Mattocks then fired the ball into the far post past NIU goalkeeper Jordan Godsey.

Saturday’s win gives Porter his 98th career victory, which only leaves him two wins away from his 100th career win.

Before entering Saturday’s match, the Huskies were 5-0 on the road this season while posting a 2-1 record at home.

Akron’s record against Northern Illinois all-time is 18-3-1. The Zips have also won their last six meetings against NIU, dating back to the 2007 season.

Overall, the Zips have won their last 23 regular season matches against MAC opponents, dating back to the 2007 season.

The Zips will return to action Wednesday at First Energy Stadium-Cub Cadet Field when they take on Penn State. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.