AKRON, Ohio – University of Akron men's soccer seniors Sam Gainford (Liverpool, England) and Stuart Holthusen (Auckland, New Zealand) continued their dominating run of play netting a goal apiece to lead the third-rated and fifth-seeded Zips (17-3-1) to a 3-0 victory past No. 22 Seattle (15-4-4) in the second round of the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship on Sunday, Nov. 19, at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
Akron advances to the third round of the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship for the sixth time in the last nine campaigns and will host the winner of the Notre Dame/Wisconsin match currently underway on Saturday, Nov. 25, at 4 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
The Zips bettered the Fighting Irish during the regular season, 2-0, on Oct. 17, at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field, while Akron has not squared off with the Badgers in the regular season since 1991.
The Zips outshot the Redhawks in the affair, 12-4, including posting a 5-2 advantage in shots on goal. Seattle came into the contest recording an NCAA-best 19.2 shots per game. Gainford paced the Zips' offensive efforts with a game-high four shots, while contributing two shots apiece was Holthusen and redshirt sophomore Skye Harter (Copley, Ohio). Alex Roldan collected a team-high three shots for the Redhawks.
Junior goalkeeper Ben Lundt (Berlin, Germany) pulled in two saves for Akron en route to earning his ninth clean sheet of the season, while his counterpart, Josh Adachi made two saves for Seattle.
Equally impressive for the Zips was the play of its defensive backline of seniors Niko De Vera (Camas, Wash.) and Nate Shultz (Mayfield, Ohio) and freshmen Joao Moutinho (Lisbon, Portugal) and Daniel Strachan (Lakewood, Ohio).
The Zips broke into the scoring column in the seventh minute (6:27) when Gainford connected on his eighth goal of the season, a strike from 15 yards out off an assist from senior Manuel Cordeiro (Porto, Portugal). The tally came off a strong give-and-go at the top of the box by Cordeiro to streaking Gainford, who delivered the ball into the corner of the net to give the Zips a 1-0 lead.
Gainford nearly provided more scoring for Akron at the 26:33 mark as his ball played into the box just missed connecting at the foot of a sliding Harter.
The Zips held a 1-0 lead at the intermission after outpacing Seattle in shots in the opening stanza, 7-0, including 2-0 edge in shots on frame.
The Redhawks came out of the gate to begin the second half as the aggressors registering their first three shots of the game and of the final period for either team. Lundt denied the first two strikes on goal by Roldan (45:57) and Nick Prasad (49:00) as he made a pair of saves, including a diving stop to deny the scoring chances.
Coming into the tilt in reserve duty in the 62nd minute, junior Morgan Hackworth (Bradenton, Fla.) placed shot on goal at the 64:47 mark that Adachi pulled in for a save.
Roldan narrowly missed connecting on the equalizer for Seattle in the 66th minute (65:55) as his shot in the box went inches wide of the corner of the goal.
De Vera followed in the 73rd minute delivering a beautiful pass to a streaking Holthusen, who spun past the defender and punched in his team-leading 11th tally of the season at the 72:10 mark to extend Akron's lead to 2-0.
Sophomore Marcel Zajac (Mississauga, Ontario) capped the scoring for the Zips on the afternoon with his fourth goal of the year in the 89th minute (88:16).
The triumph enabled Akron to post a victory in NCAA Tournament play for the ninth time over the last 10 campaigns.