AKRON, Ohio – The University of Akron men's soccer controlled the run of play throughout its showdown with VCU (2-5-2) on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field, but the Zips (5-3-1) were unable to register their fifth victory of the season on their home pitch as the two teams battled to a 0-0 double-overtime draw.
Akron outshot the Rams in the affair, 21-11, including posting a 4-3 advantage in overtime, as the Zips remained unbeaten in their last 11 home contests dating back to last season.
Both sides had strong scoring chances in the final overtime session that failed to garner the coveted golden goal.
Making his return to the offensive arsenal for the Zips after missing the last three contests due to injury, redshirt junior Sam Gainford (Liverpool, England) fired a shot in the box at the 104:23 mark which was pulled in for a save by VCU goalkeeper Pierre Gardan.
The Rams seemingly had the game-winner within their grasp in the 108th minute (107:29) as Rafael Santos had his 1v1 opportunity with Akron sophomore goalkeeper Ben Lundt (Berlin, Germany) hit the crossbar and bound down in front of the goal line before being cleared out of danger by the Zips' defense.
Less than a minute later at the 108:27 mark, junior Stuart Holthusen (Auckland, New Zealand), who was making his 2016 debut after battling injuries, got behind the VCU defensive line and unfurled a laser from approximately 10 yards out which narrowly missed finding the corner of the net for the golden goal. Holthusen was also just wide connecting on a feed from redshirt junior Robby Dambrot (Akron, Ohio) in the 102nd minute (101:48).
Earlier in the initial overtime stanza, senior Brad Ruhaak (Akron, Ohio) had his own scoring opportunity at the 98:40 mark as his header was blocked.
Holthusen led all players in the tilt with a game-high six shots in reserve duty, while the Zips also received two shots apiece courtesy of Gainford, Ruhaak, freshman Jonathan Lewis (Plantation, Fla.), redshirt sophomore Ezana Kahsay (Asmeras, Eritrea), redshirt freshman Skye Harter (Copley, Ohio) and redshirt junior Pau Belana (Barcelona, Catalonia). Jorge Herranz directed the Rams' offensive efforts with a team-best six shots.
Lundt recorded three saves for the Zips en route to registering his fifth consecutive clean sheet of the 2016 campaign at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field. Lundt has not surrendered a goal on his home pitch in 470 minutes this season. Gardan finished with five stops for VCU, and posted his first shutout of the year.
The two sides waged through a defensive-minded first half with each team recording only one shot on goal, despite Akron registered a 7-4 overall advantage in shots.
Holthusen was able to get behind the Rams' defensive line in the 63rd minute (62:43) off a pass from Lewis, but his strike was blocked.
Lewis placed a shot of his own on frame at the 72:53 mark, one that was thwarted by a Gardan save.
Senior Adam Najem (Clifton, N.J.) delivered a strike from the middle of the box in the 85th minute (84:02) that was denied by a diving save from Gardan, before Ruhaak's header off a Harter corner kick at the 84:34 mark went just over the net.
Akron returns to action on Oct. 7 as the Zips open their Mid-American Conference slate hosting Buffalo. Game time at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field is set for 7:30 p.m.