RICHMOND, Va. – University of Akron men's soccer redshirt sophomore Diogo Pacheco (Lisbon, Portugal) netted a golden goal in the 94th minute (93:55) to propel the Zips (4-3-1) to a come-from-behind 4-3 overtime triumph past VCU (4-4-0) on the strength of his first career hat trick on Wednesday, Sept. 26.
Pacheco garnered the game-winning tally off a pair of assists from senior Morgan Hackworth (Bradenton, Fla.) and junior Marcel Zajac (Mississauga, Ontario). Hackworth headed a ball in the box wide to Zajac, who redirected the ball back into the box to Pacheco, who found the corner of the net to extend the Zips' winning streak to three with the overtime victory.
The three-goal explosion marked the third hat trick for an Akron player this season joining sophomore David Egbo (Enugu, Nigeria) and senior Ezana Kahsay (Asmeras, Eritrea), who matched the feat versus Canisius on Sept. 15.
"I'm really proud of our effort tonight," Akron head coach Jared Embick commented. "We had to come back on the road against a great team, which is tough enough, let alone to deal with a delay and the weather conditions. We had a lot of times to give in, but we stuck together and kept fighting. This is a great result."
The Zips posted a 15-9 advantage in shots on the evening, including a 6-4 margin in shots on goal. Egbo and Kahsay each recorded a game-high four shots for Akron, while Pacheco scored a goal on each of his three shots. Jared Greene led the Rams with a team-high two shots.
The Zips dominated the attack in the opening stanza outshooting the Rams by an 8-3 margin, while garnering an 8-1 margin in corner kicks.
Despite the advantage, VCU cracked the scoring column first in the affair when Greene connected on his fourth goal of the season off an assist from Simon Fitch at the 26:43 mark.
Freshman Marco Milanese (Isernia, Italy) leveled the score at one in the 40th minute (39:49) striking a header into the back of the net off a corner kick from freshman Colin Biros (Canton, Ohio). The tally marked the first collegiate goal and assist for Milanese and Biros, respectively.
The lead was short-lived as Travis Cooke found the back of the net at the 40:49 mark to send the Rams into the intermission holding a 2-1 lead.
Kahsay and Egbo paced Akron with three and two first-half shots, respectively.
After an hour and 40-minute lightning delay, play resumed in the second half at approximately 9:40 p.m.
Off a free kick in the 50th minute (49:59) Egbo served a ball into the box that narrowly missed finding the top of the net as it pinged off the crossbar.
Pacheco netted the equalizer knocking in his third goal of the season on a ball served into the box off a corner kick from redshirt junior Skye Harter (Copley, Ohio) at the 67:15 mark.
A mere 10 seconds later at the 67:25 mark, Pacheco struck again giving the Zips a 3-2 lead with his second goal of the evening. Freshman Sam Tojaga (Erie, Pa.) knocked a ball to Pacheco off a collision with the VCU defender to account for Pacheco's second multi-goal game of the season.
The Zips continued to play strong defensively before Peter Pearson redirected a defensive deflection off of a free kick into the back of the net in the 89th minute (88:31) to square the contest at three.
Akron capped the comeback with Pacheco's game-winner at the 93:55 mark on the Zips' lone shot in overtime.
Senior goalkeeper Ben Lundt (Berlin, Germany) made one stop for Akron, while Mario Sequeira collected two saves for the Rams.
Akron returns to action hosting Syracuse in a 7 p.m. tilt at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field on Monday, Oct. 1.