Steve Zakuani scored a pair of goals and assisted two others while Blair Gavin put the finishing touches on an improbable comeback as the No. 4 University of Akron men’s soccer team rallied to a 4-3 victory over Ohio State Friday night.
Akron (15-1-3) started the second half with a 1-0 lead, but it wouldn’t hold up in a frantic second half that featured six goals and 17 combined shots.
UA, which hadn't allowed more than one goal in a single game all season, saw OSU score two times in little more than one minute to regain the lead early in the second half and find the net three times for the contest. The Zips' defense, which is ranked second in the nation, had allowed just six scores through the first 18 games of the year.
"This was one of the craziest soccer games I have been a part of," said UA head coach Caleb Porter. "Our performance defensively was not good enough and we are going to have to make some adjustments. However, this team has a special quality that sets them apart. They find ways to win and tonight our attacking group was electric."
"I also can't say enough about our fans, the AK-Rowdies, who made the trip to Columbus," Porter continued. "They were a big part of this victory."
The 2007 national runners-up Buckeyes (9-7-2) wasted little time after the break, blitzing back with two goals in the first five minutes of play. A goal by Ben Zemanski tied the game in the 55th minute, but the Zips had to rally once more as OSU regained the lead less than a minute later.
Zakuani, the nation’s goals leader and Hermann Trophy candidate, scored his second goal of the game to pull the Zips even before assisting Gavins’s gamewinner in the 82nd minute. Zakuani crossed the ball from the left side of the box and Gavin lifted the ball just under the crossbar from 10 yards out for his first goal of the season.
The Zips were on the attack for much of the first half and capitalized early when Steve Zakuani netted his nation-leading 18th goal off a feed from Darlington Nagbe in the 13th minute. The difficult shot by the Hermann Trophy candidate came from the top of the box and traveled about 25 yards before settling into the top of the goal.
The Buckeyes actually managed to out-shoot UA in the opening period, 8-4, with most of their opportunities coming off counters. Evan Bush recorded three saves as the Zips took a 1-0 lead into the break.
A goal by OSU's Konrad Warzycha in the 48th minute knotted the game at 1-all and a score by teammate Dave Tiemstra in the 49th minute gave the Buckeyes their first lead of the game. Both tallies were assisted by Joshua Breto, with Warzycha also getting credit for an assist on Tiemstra's score.
Zemanski his second goal of the season from the top of the box off a feed from Zakuani to tie the game for the second time, but OSU answered right back with a goal off the foot of Doug Verhoff and assisted by Sam Scales less than one minute later.
Zakuani struck again in the 68th minute with his 19th goal of the year to tie the game for a third and final time off a pair of passes from Gavin and Bunbury.
Zips Notebook: UA, which improved to 22-6-2 all-time versus Ohio State, defeated the Buckeyes for the first time in Columbus since 1984 – snapping a string of three-straight defeats ... The Zips finished the regular season with a 2-0-2 record versus schools from the Big Ten Conference ... More than 150 UA students made the trip to Columbus and were a factor throughout the game.
Courtesy: Akron Media Relations
Next up is the MAC tournament, hosted by the Zips. Then the big show, the NCAA tournament.