Courtesy of MAC Sports Information Departments
Wednesday's Men's Soccer Scoreboard - 10/31
Akron 1, Michigan State 0
Buffalo 1, Hartwick 0
Akron 1, Michigan State 0
EAST LANSING, Mich. – The No. 2 University of Akron men's soccer team pushed its unbeaten streak to 12 matches and its win streak to 11 with a 1-0 victory against Michigan State Wednesday afternoon at DeMartin Stadium.
Robbie Derschang netted the match's lone goal early in the second half and goalkeeper David Meves made a couple of clutch saves in the closing minutes as the Zips (14-1-2) completed a season sweep of the Big Ten Conference for the third time in four seasons, improving to 5-0 versus the leauge in 2012 and 18-2-1 since 2009.
Akron, which leads the nation in shutout percentage, has now shut out 11 of its last 12 opponents and registered 13 clean sheets in total this fall. Furthermore, UA has out-scored its last 11 foes by a count of 29-1.
After the teams played to a scoreless tie at the break, Derschang put the Zips up for good in the 48th minute. The junior earned a corner kick with a long run and then flicked home a service by Scott Caldwell from the near post. Derschang's header deflected briefly off a Michigan State defender and into the back of the net.
As time wound down, the Spartans (8-8-1) threw numbers forward and created some tense moments but Meves and the Zips were up to the challenge.
Michigan State's best opportunity to find the equalizer came in the 88th minute following a corner kick. But Meves pushed Kevin Cope's header off the cross bar and took Ryan Keener's rebound in the chest to preserve the victory.
For the match, Akron doubled up Michigan State in shots, 14-7, and posted a 5-3 edge on goal. UA also earned five corner kicks to MSU's two.
The Zips dominated play in the first half, posting an 8-2 advantage in shots and owned all four shots on goal, but couldn't capitalize.
UA's best chance to score in the first half came in the 39th minute when Aodhan Quinn sprung Reinaldo Brenes with a through ball from midfield. Brenes gained possession and fired a shot headed for the far post but MSU keeper Zach Bennett, who finished with four saves, threw up a hand up to punch the ball out of play.
Dillon Serna's ensuing corner kick found Brenes in the box but Bennett was there once again to scoop up the header.
Akron will return to FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field for the final match of the regular season Saturday night when it hosts Western Michigan on Senior Night. The Zips and Broncos will kick off at 7:30 p.m. (ET) after a special tribute to UA's four seniors; Chad Barson, Caldwell, Meves and Thomas Schmitt.
Zips Notebook: The Zips improved to 25-11-1 all-time against Michigan State and 22-6-5 versus schools from the Big Ten ... Akron shut out all five Big Ten opponents this season, earning victories against Indiana (1-0), Penn State (2-0), Michigan (1-0), Ohio State (1-0) and Michigan State (1-0) ... UA is 109-3-4 when it scores first and 89-1-3 when it shuts out an opponent since 2006.
Buffalo 1, Hartwick 0
ONEONTA, NY - The Buffalo men's soccer team continues to find its pace at the perfect time of the year, racking up another shutout win Wednesday night with a 1-0 decision over Hartwick (4-10-1, 1-5 MAC). The Bulls (5-10-1, 3-3 MAC) used a first-half goal from senior Joey Merlo to earn the win. The game, originally scheduled for Tuesday, was the team's third straight win and kept its hopes for a berth in the Mid-American Conference tournament alive.
"It was a total team effort tonight, we had to play every available player because the storm pushed us back a day and gave us only one day of rest before Northern Illinois on Friday," head coach David Hesch said. "We had to be mindful of our legs. We stuck to the game plan, defended well and possessed the ball. Defensively we limited their shots on goals, Jon Viscosi was great again in goal and Matthew Chereson and Jesse Andoh were solid at the center of our defense."
Despite the Hawks dictating the run of play early on, the Bulls leaned once again on its senior class to respond. Merlo took the ball down the right side and was able to rack his first goal of the season in the 27th minute to put the Bulls up early and deflate the opposition. Patrick Ryan and Maksym Kowal were awarded assists for setting up their classmate's goal.
"It was a great goal at a great time," Hesch said. "Joey possessed the ball from about 30 yards out, beat one guy and went far post. He recognized the goalie was out of position and just blasted it past him near post. You can just see after that goal that our team was fired up."
That would wind up being the lone goal of the game thanks to a UB defense that went all out to limit any quality chances on frame for Hartwick. Despite being outshot 17-7 and out-cornered 12-4, the Buffalo defense allowed only three shots to be put on goal. All three would be punched clear by senior keeper Jonathan Viscosi. While the back line continued its recent stretch of standout play, Hesch credited the entire starting 11 with making a difference on defense.
"We're defending well all over the field right now, our forwards are putting better pressure on the ball and our midfielders are marking up well and playing tighter," Hesch said. "Having such a young team and playing guys in key spots, we had to try some different things through the year so far and we've lived and learned from our mistakes."
Many different outcomes lay before the team heading into the season finale Friday night at home against Northern Illinois. There is currently a four-way tie for second place in the conference, with Western Michigan, West Virginia, Bowling Green and Northern Illinois all with three wins and a tie in conference play. The Mountaineers go to Bowling Green on Saturday while the Broncos will face a stiff challenge as it heads to Akron on Saturday as well.
With only three wins for the Bulls, there is no other option but win, and with a win the team could potentially put themselves anywhere from the second seed to a third or fourth seed. As the lone MAC game of Friday, the team will be forced to watch its destiny unfold with the two critical Saturday matches to follow.
"The guys are ready. Even with the storm coming through, the guys said 'hey, we'll play Wednesday, we'll play Thursday, we'll play Friday morning' we want to get this game and then get to Northern," Hesch said. "This team has bought into the system - they trust me, they trust each other and you can see that it has gone a long way."
First kick against the Huskies at UB Stadium will be at 7pm.