Luke Holmes scored a goal and added an assist in his Zips' debut as The No. 4 University of Akron men's soccer team earned a 3-1 victory over Ohio State in front of a record crowd of 5,819 fans Wednesday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
It was a commanding performance overall for UA (6-0-2), which extended its NCAA-record home unbeaten streak to 43 matches before an electric crowd that featured 2,855 students alone. The Zips, who dominated possession throughout the majority of the contest, out-shot the Buckeyes 15-5 overall and 7-2 on frame.
Akron found itself having to break down an entrentched OSU defense for much of the match but was patient with its attack and the goals eventually came.
After nearly scoring on a corner kick just minutes earlier, UA broke through in a flash at the 20:59 mark thanks to a deep run by DeAndre Yedlin. The true freshman split a pair of defenders on the right flank and slipped the ball past the keeper from a near impossible angle and off the far post for his first goal of the year.
The score remained 1-0 in Akron's favor at halftime. The Zips' possession and swarming defense limited Ohio State to just two shots in the first 45 minutes. Meanwhile, UA sophomore Darren Mattocks was causing all kinds of trouble with four shots of his own, including two on frame, in a busy opening period.
The Buckeyes (5-4-1), who had relied almost exclusively on set pieces and counter attacks for much of the game, began to press midway through the second half and had their best scoring opportunity thwarted when Yedlin came off the line to clear a shot by Parnell Hegngi in the 67th minute.
Thomas Schmitt made OSU pay for the missed opportunity with his first goal of the season in the 69th minute by cleaning up a rebounded shot from Holmes, who initiated the action with a deep run down the left side of the field.
The Buckeyes did not go down without a fight, however, and got the goal back when Sebastian Revas slotted a shot off a long pass from Omar Vallejo in the 74th minute.
But Holmes, the 2010 NAIA National Player of the Year, put the game away for good with his first goal in an Akron uniform in the 82nd minute. Freshman Wil Trapp found the Notre Dame College transfer with space on the left flank with a pass from just past midfield. Holmes shook his defender and fired a rocket off the crossbar and into the back of the net.
Akron will next open Mid-American Conference play this Saturday when it travels to Western Michigan to take on the Broncos. Kick off is scheduled for 1 p.m. (ET)
Zips Notebook: Akron, which was one of just eight unbeaten teams in the country entering the week, has now gone undefeated in its last 17 games – dating back to the end of last season ... UA improved to 4-0-1 against Ohio State since 2008 and 15-4-5 against schools from the Big Ten Conference under sixth-year head coach Caleb Porter ... Akron is now 25-6-3 all-time against their in-state rivals ... Wednesday's victory was the 96th in Porter's head coaching career.
After fueling the Zips to a 4-0 rout at Saint Louis last week, junior midfielder Scott Caldwell, who was named to the National Team of the Week by College Soccer News Monday, continued to receive acclaim, earning distinction from Soccer America and the Mid-American Conference.
The native of Braintree, Mass., and reigning MAC Male Scholar Athlete of the Week was named to Soccer America's National Team of the Week Wednesday after being tabbed MAC co-Player of the Week by the league office Tuesday.
Caldwell had a career day against the Billikens as UA (3-0-1) remained unbeaten on the season with the commanding victory. In all, Caldwell scored a goal and assisted all three others to set a new personal high and lead the Zips to their first ever win at St. Louis is five attempts.
After assisting Akron's first two goals, including Matt Dagilis' game-winning header, Caldwell found the back of the net himself, firing a rocket from more than 25 yards out over a wall of defenders and just under the upper right crossbar. He then capped off his big night by assisting the final goal of the game to close out the scoring.
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