LEXINGTON, Ky. - The University of Akron men's soccer team garnered a 15th-minute (14:33) goal from senior Diogo Pacheco (Lisbon, Portugal) and battled through a pair of overtime sessions to earn a 1-1 double-overtime draw at No. 12 Kentucky (7-1-1) in the Zips' season opener on Thursday, Feb. 25.
"At the end of the day it is a good result today," Akron head coach Jared Embick commented. "Our effort and mentality were great today. Kentucky is 7-1 and it is a tough place to play your first meaningful game in nearly 470 days. We are a bit disappointed that we didn't come away with three points, which I thought we deserved. The first half we were excellent and the start of the second half we lost second balls and Kentucky was able to take advantage of a long throw. Overall, I felt we created better chances and at the end of the day, we just have to be more clinical."
Akron (0-0-1) finished the affair registering a 14-5 advantage in shots, led by a game-high four shots from Pacheco and two strikes apiece courtesy of senior Hazem Sobhy (Cairo, Egypt) and sophomores Henrique Cruz (Fortaleza, Brazil) and Johnny Fitzgerald (Tallahassee, Fla.). Five different Wildcats posted a shot on the afternoon for Kentucky.
In his first career start for the Zips, senior GK Will Meyer (Solon, Ohio) notched a pair of saves in net. His counterpart, Ryan Troutman matched Meyer's effort with two saves for Kentucky.
Sobhy placed the initial shot on goal for either team in the 12th minute (11:51), a shot that was pulled in for a save by Troutman.
Less than three minutes later, junior Carlo Ritaccio (Westbury, N.Y.) cleared a ball in the midfield to the foot of Cruz, who served a ball to a streaking Pacheco down the sideline, who took the feed and found the back of the net for his first goal of the season at the 14:33 mark. Ritaccio and Cruz earned the assists on the tally.
Neither side was able to direct a shot on goal the remainder of the period as the Zips outshot the Wildcats in the opening half, 5-2, including 2-0 on frame. Five different Akron players recorded first-half shots, with strikes from Pacheco and Sobhy coming on goal.
Cruz and Fitzgerald added shots in the opening minute of the second half before a foul on the Wildcats just outside the box resulted in a free kick in the 53rd minute (52:53). Fitzgerald's attempt went wide of the net to thwart the scoring chance.
Sophomore Will Jackson (Hudson, Ohio) recorded a shot on goal at the 54:19 mark off a corner kick, one that was pulled in by a save from Troutman.
Brock Lindow netted the equalizer for Kentucky in the 70th minute (69:49) striking a deflection off the head of Eythor Bjorgolfsson for his fourth goal of the season. The play was set-up by a long throw-in pass from Trey Arsenio, who along with Bjorgolfsson were credited with assists.
Freshman Jason Shokalook (Erie, Pa.) got free in the offensive end for the Zips in the 85th minute (84:38) and hit a shot from the top corner of the box that went wide.
The lone shot of the first overtime session from Luis Grassow was pulled in for a save by Meyer at the 98:25 mark.
In the second overtime period, Pacheco had his strike in the 101st minute (100:32) blocked before chipping a shot high in box at the 104:20 mark that went wide.
Akron is scheduled to open its home campaign welcoming No. 9 Marshall to FirstEnergy Stadium for a 3 p.m. contest on Tuesday, March 2.