AKRON, Ohio - A golden goal in the 108th minute (107:44) from senior Hazem Sobhy (Cairo, Egypt) lifted the 21st-rated University of Akron men's soccer team to a dramatic 3-2 double-overtime victory past West Virginia (5-3-0, 3-3-0 MAC) on Wednesday, April 7 at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The game-winning tally for the Zips (4-2-1, 3-2-0 MAC) was set-up by a serve into the box from junior Sam Tojaga (Erie, Pa.) to freshman Jason Shokalook (Erie, Pa.), who got a head on the ball with the deflection falling to Sobhy, who struck a header into the corner of the box for his first goal at Akron.
"Usually, my role on these plays is to try to free a man up," said Sobhy. "It was a great header from Shokalook that hit the post, should have been his night. Sammy gets a shot off the top of the box, keeper lets it loose, and I was there to eat it up. I'll take that every day."
The gritty and determined effort by the Zips over a Mountaineer squad that sits atop of the NCAA RPI list was fueled by a true team effort as 19 players contributed minutes to the Akron victory.
"That was unbelievable, the guts, the heart, I hope people appreciate how special that was," Akron head coach Jared Embick commented. "We have had guys train two days since March 17 having to play minutes, guys just grinding it out, nowhere near full fitness from what we have been having to go through. To gut it out, to grind it out, to stick together and play, I hope people really realize that probably was one of the most special efforts I have ever seen from a team. I'm incredibly proud."
The Zips also garnered goals in the match from junior Carlo Ritaccio (Westbury, N.Y.) at the 7:59 mark as well as junior Colin Biros (Jackson, Ohio) in the 81st minute (80:46).
West Virginia posted a 14-9 edge in shot on the evening, with each side garnering five shots on goal apiece.
Freshman Dyson Clapier (Layton, Utah) directed the Zips' offensive efforts with a team-high three shots, while Shokalook added two shots of his own. Pau Jimenez Garcia led the Mountaineers with a game-high four shots.
Senior GK Will Meyer (Solon, Ohio) recorded a trio of saves in the match for Akron, including thwarting a penalty kick by Bjarne Thiesen at the 13:47 mark of the first half with a diving save. Steven Tekesky registered a pair of saves in net for West Virginia.
The Zips took the early advantage in the affair at the 7:59 mark as Ritaccio headed home his first goal of the season off a corner kicked served into the box from Biros. The tally was the third career goal for Ritaccio against the Mountaineers.
West Virginia leveled the score at one in the 43rd minute (42:26) when a give-and-go from Jesus De Vincente to Luke McCormick resulted in a goal to send the game all-square at one into the intermission.
The Mountaineers posted a 5-2 edge in first-half shots.
Shokalook delivered a shot on goal in the 58th minute (57:07) that was saved by Tekesky.
Akron retook the lead at the 80:46 mark when Biros connected on a laser from 25 yards out that found the corner of the net to beat a diving Tekesky. Garnering the assist on the tally was Shokalook.
The Zips were whistled for a handball in the 86th minute (85:08) that gave the Mountaineers their second penalty kick of the evening. Dyon Dromers stepped to the ball and evened the game at two with the successful penalty kick.
Each side recorded a shot on goal in the first overtime period with Meyer and Tekesky each notching a save.
The game-winning tally was set up by a shot from Shokalook that struck the post before being deflected out to Tojaga, who served it back into the box towards Shokalook, who headed it to Sobhy for the game-winner.
Akron is scheduled to visit Bowling Green in a 1 p.m. tilt on Sunday, April 11.