Zips push past Penn State 1-0

By: Chris Coon

It was a cool and rainy night at First Energy Stadium-Cub Cadet Field Wednesday as The No. 5 University of Akron men’s soccer team defeated Penn State 1-0 in non-league play before a crowd of 2,550.

The Zips (9-1-2) struck first after sophomore forward Darren Mattocks scored his 11th goal of the season in the 25th minute. The play developed after sophomore forward Aodhan Quinn sent the ball into the box from the right side of the field off a free kick, where Mattocks headed it in to make the score 1-0 in the first half.

“It’s a goal scorer’s goal,” Mattocks said, who has scored 11 goals in 11 games this season for UA. “Any way to get it in you got to get it in. I saw across from Aodhan and I made a diving header three or four yards out and that’s what it took.”

In the first half, Penn State (6-5-2) had an opportunity to score in the 16th minute, when midfielder Mackenzie Arment sent a liner off the top of the cross bar, but the ball landed in front of the goal line, finding an Akron defender to kick it out of bounds just in time.

“The positive is we got the result but that wasn’t good enough,” Akron Head Coach Caleb Porter said. “That wasn’t a performance that we were pleased with. First half I felt we put our selves in a very good position…Darren scored a goal and I thought we defended well, but the second half I thought we took our foot off the pedal and didn’t show any assertiveness and didn’t play to our standard.”

Going into the half, UA led in shooting 7-3 while Penn State led in corner kicks 5-2. For the game, the Zips had a10-8 advantage in shooting, while the Lions finished the game leading in corner kicks 10-3. Akron had five shots on goal compared to Penn State’s four.

Mattocks had a good look in the 33rd minute of the game, but was unable to convert, as Lions goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton came up with the save. Wolverton recorded four saves on the night.

In the 49th minute, the Zips went up a man after Lions forward Julian Cardona was called for a red card after fouling freshman defender Bryan Gallego.

“We went up a man and we didn’t play with any edge or killer instinct,” Porter said. “For me, that’s a concern. A championship level team who’s now getting to the final third of the season should be playing at a higher level then what we are in that second half.”

The game became a bit bizarre in the final minute as the goalkeeper from Penn State shot the free kick from about 60 yards out, almost netting the ball as it missed by inches, rolling out of bounds as the clock continued to count down.

“Yes, we’re winning games, but we know what it takes to win a national championship. That’s our goal and that’s our standard and we’re not going to be satisfied breezing through games at a level that is not consistent with our goals,” Porter said.

Junior goalkeeper David Meves finished the game with three saves, while Akron recorded their eighth shut out of the season.

UA entered tonight’s game ranked No. 5, dropping two spots from last week in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll after a 3-2-overtime loss to No. 13 UC Santa Barbra.

Wednesday night’s match was the 32nd meeting between Penn State and Akron, with Akron posting a record of 13-13-5 all-time since 1978.

Akron is unbeaten in their last 45 matches at home, which is an NCAA record. The Zips have also won their last 12 matches at home against Big Ten opponents since 2007, while being unbeaten in their last seven games (5-0-2) against Penn State.

Before entering Wednesday night’s game, the Lions in their last six games had gone 1-3-2, with one of those losses coming this past weekend to Michigan State 1-0.

The Zips are ranked second in the nation in attendance this fall, only behind UC Santa Barbra (5,033). UA is averaging 4,407 fans a game this season.

The Zips will return to action at First Energy Stadium-Cub Cadet Field this Saturday at 7: 30 p.m. to take on MAC opponent Hartwick.