KALAMAZOO, Mich. – A golden goal by senior Stuart Holthusen (Auckland, New Zealand) in the 106th minute (105:06) capped a dramatic come-from-behind 2-1 double-overtime triumph for the fourth-rated University of Akron men's soccer team past SIU Edwardsville (7-10-1) in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament on Friday, Nov. 10.
Holthusen's team-leading ninth goal of the season and seventh in the Zips' last four games, came courtesy of an assist from redshirt junior Ezana Kahsay (Asmeras, Eritrea), and secured a berth in the title game of the MAC Tournament on Sunday, Nov. 12, at 1 p.m., versus the winner of the Western Michigan-West Virginia contest currently in progress.
The victory would not have been possible for Akron (15-3-1) without redshirt sophomore Skye Harter (Copley, Ohio) netting the equalizer with 17 seconds left in regulation (89:43) to send the tilt into overtime. The goal was the fourth of the year for Harter and arguably the biggest of his Zips' career.
Akron dominated the statistical count in the affair outshooting the Cougars, 22-7, including 7-3 on goal. Directing the Zips' efforts with a game-high five shots was senior Sam Gainford (Liverpool, England), while Holthusen, sophomore Marcel Zajac (Mississauga, Ontario) and freshman David Egbo (Enugu, Nigeria) each added three shots. SIU Edwardsville was led by three shots from Jorge Gonzalez and two courtesy of Mohamed Awad.
Junior goalkeeper Ben Lundt (Berlin, Germany) recorded a pair of saves in net for Akron, while his fellow keeper, Kyle Dal Santo, registered five stops for the Cougars.
Neither side was able to get many chances on frame in the opening stanza as the first shot on goal came in the 31st minute (30:25) by Awad.
The Cougars best scoring opportunity came at the 39:28 mark as Gonzalez' header went just wide of the corner of the net.
Zajac, who came in late in the opening half, garnered Akron's first shot on goal on a header at the 42:26 mark, a strike that was pulled in for a save by Dal Santo.
Just before the intermission, Zajac added another shot on frame in the 45th minute (44:47) for the Zips, resulting in a stop from Dal Santo.
The Zips outshot the Cougars in the initial half, 9-2, and 2-1 on goal.
SIU Edwardsville assumed a 1-0 lead in the 56th minute (55:54) when Greg Solawa knocked in the deflection off of a blocked shot by Johan DePicker.
Akron recorded six of the next seven shots in the affair before Gainford served a ball into the box that Egbo headed on frame at the 85:28 mark. The shot missed crossing the goal line by mere inches as Dal Santo recorded the save to deny the scoring opportunity.
Just over four minutes later, senior Nate Shultz (Mayfield, Ohio) crossed a ball near post into the box in the 90th minute (89:43) that Harter was able to drill past Dal Santo for the equalizer to send the contest into overtime.
The Zips registered the lone shot in the first overtime period, a shot by senior Manuel Cordeiro (Porto, Portugal) that was blocked at the 98:22 mark.
Each team posted a shot in the second overtime period before Holthusen's golden goal.
Akron now goes in search of its 14th MAC Tournament title when the Zips take on the winner of the Western Michigan-West Virginia contest on Sunday, Nov. 12, at 1 p.m. The game is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN3.