Courtesy of Buffalo Athletic Communications
BUFFALO, NY - Despite one of the best performances of the season by the Buffalo defense, it was unable to hold Mid-American Conference foe Akron (10-3, 3-1 MAC) scoreless, yielding a goal in the 108th minute in double overtime to drop a 1-0 contest. Waleed Cassis made eight saves in the match for UB (2-9-3, 1-3 MAC).
The Zips, who came into the night ranked 23rd in the nation and recently defeated 15th-ranked Wake Forest, controlled the run of play in the first half, holding possession while trying to find a hole in the UB defense. The Bulls stuck tough to their game plan, though, funneling the Akron attack to the wings and controlling the crossing patterns. One of the best scoring opportunities for either side in the first half would be from UB, when Nicolai Berry put a free kick to the back post. After a header from Jesse Andoh kept it in the box, Marcus Hanson settled it off his chest and struck a point-blank one timer that was right at the goalkeeper.
The time of possession was much more even for the final half of regulation, with Buffalo recording two more prime goal-scoring chances. In the 61st minute, Berry put his head down at the top of the box and put a left-footed crack that just glanced off the top bar. In the 82nd minute, there was a battle for the ball in the Akron box. It was collected by Kristian Lee-Him, who settled off his chest with his back to the net, and he would turn and fire to the low left post. It required an outstanding effort from Akron goalie Fernando Pina, who was able to dive flat to push it wide at the last second.
With plenty of momentum going into overtime, Buffalo dictated the action in the first 10 minute extra period, highlighted by another quality strike from Berry. In the 99th minute, the freshman Kiwi went to his right foot and put a low attempt just inches wide of the sure-fire golden goal.
Akron would pressure back in the second overtime, but Cassis was able to make a pair of tough saves. The junior transfer had a busy night controlling an Akron offense that came into Friday night averaging 19 shots per game for the season, and attempted 18 in the game. It would be that 18th shot that would be the most important, though, as Akron would convert on a goal in the 108th minute off a shallow cross in the box that was chipped over his head.
The Bulls were out-shot 18-9 in the game, and were stuck with 22 fouls and three cards against them compared to just 10 fouls on the Zips.
"I couldn't have asked for anything more, we had a game plan and the boys stuck to it," head coach Stu Riddle said. "One lapse two minutes from the end has cost us - very cruelly - a result in this match. We just ran one of the top teams in the country very close and we had chances to win the game as well. Moving forward, we have to believe that we can compete with these opponents week in and week out."
Next up for the team will be the last of its stretch of three games in eight days, hosting Gannon on Wednesday, Oct. 23. Game time is schedule for 7 pm.