BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The University of Akron men's soccer team put forth a valiant effort in its second round NCAA Tournament showdown with fourth-rated and seventh-seeded Indiana (12-1-7) on Sunday, Nov. 20, but the Zips (13-6-3) were unable to garner the tally they needed as the Hoosiers registered a 1-0 victory.
"I think today came down to it was our fourth game in nine days and we finally showed signs of that," Akron head coach Jared Embick commented. "But give Indiana credit they worked very hard to keep us out of our game and they get an own goal and we weren't able to overcome it. A disappointing end as we were starting to play well, but we left it too late."
The Zips, who were outshot in the affair, 13-12, were led by a game-high five shots from freshman Nick Hinds (Plantation, Fla.), while redshirt junior Sam Gainford (Liverpool, England) contributed a four-shot performance. Austin Panchot led Indiana with a team-high three shots.
Sophomore goalkeeper Ben Lundt (Berlin, Germany) recorded three saves for the Zips, while Christian Lomeli turned in three stops for the Hoosiers en route to posting the shutout.
Indiana scored what proved to be the game-winning tally in the 54th minute (53:16) as Billy McConnell was credited with the goal off a scrum in the middle of the six-yard box. The tally came off a corner kick delivered into the box by Tanner Thompson that appeared to be knocked into the goal off a Zips' defender.
Akron continued to battle and push the ball into the defensive third against the Hoosiers, but three of the Zips' five second-half shots were blocked, denying the scoring opportunity. Hinds struck two of those attempts at the 62:27 and 74:11 marks, respectively.
Lundt registered two of his three saves for Akron over the final 45 minutes.
The Zips opened up the affair as the aggressors offensively as senior Adam Najem (Clifton, N.J.) had a strong play on a ball at the 2:51 mark off a corner kick by junior Niko De Vera (Camas, Wash.), but his shot was blocked.
The Hoosiers were able to push the ball down to the Zips' defensive end where Lundt came up with a huge save from six yards out off a shot from Panchot in the fifth minute (4:49).
Andrew Gutman unfurled a strike for Indiana from the corner of the box at the 23:29 mark that sailed just wide to keep the contest scoreless.
A 1v1 opportunity by Panchot in the 27th minute went just over the net despite a diving save attempt by Lundt.
Hinds nearly gave Akron a 1-0 lead in the 36th minute (35:02) as he beat three Indiana defenders to get a shot off inside the six-yard box, one that was saved by Lomeli, before Hinds got off a shot on the deflection that hit the side netting.
Inserted into the game in the 29th minute, redshirt sophomore Ezana Kahsay (Asmeras, Eritrea) was the recipient of a well-played pass into the box from Gainford at the 43:33 mark, which he fired on goal, but his strike was denied by a Lomeli save.
Shots were all square at seven in the initial stanza with the Zips posting a 3-1 margin in shots on goal.
The game marked the final outing donning the Akron kits for seniors Danilo Radjen (Broadview Heights, Ohio), Brad Ruhaak (Akron, Ohio), Goncalo Soares (Lisbon, Portugal), Najem and redshirt junior Tyler Sanda (North Royalton, Ohio).
"I think the seniors were terrific all four years," said Embick. "I know their heads are down now, but their legacy, example and hard word for what they have accomplished will carry on for a long time with this program. I know a lot of the players looked up to them and hopefully we can carry on what they accomplished."
The Zips, who returns eight starters in 2017, concluded their campaign having earned their 10th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and 31st in program history on the strength of claiming both the regular and postseason Mid-American Conference titles.