AKRON, Ohio - A two-goal performance from junior Stuart Holthusen (Auckland, New Zealand) propelled the University of Akron men's soccer team to its 12th straight Mid-American Conference regular season championship and 19th title in program history on the strength of a 3-0 victory past Western Michigan (9-5-4, 1-1-3 MAC) on Saturday, Nov. 5, at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
The triumph coupled with a 0-0 double-overtime draw between Bowling Green and Buffalo secured the outright league crown for the Zips (10-5-3, 3-1-1 MAC) and the right to host next weekend's MAC Championship. The second-seeded Falcons will battle the third-rated Bulls at 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11, with Akron again hosting the Broncos at 7 p.m. The championship match is slated for 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13.
Holthusen posted his second consecutive and fifth career multi-goal game en route to recording a game-high six shots in the affair.
The Zips bettered Western Michigan on the evening in shots, 16-14, but dominated in strikes on frame registering an 11-2 advantage.
Redshirt junior Sam Gainford (Liverpool, England) added three shots for the Zips, while contributing two shots apiece was freshmen Nick Hinds (Plantation, Fla.) and Jonathan Lewis (Plantation, Fla.) and redshirt sophomore Ezana Kahsay (Asmeras, Eritrea). Brandon Bye led the Broncos with a team-best four shots.
Sophomore Ben Lundt (Berlin, Germany) made one save for Akron en route to collecting his ninth shutout of the season. Kyle Taalman recorded seven stops for Western Michigan.
Lewis nearly garnered his third goal on the campaign at the 15:09 mark. Only a team save by the Broncos prevented him from knocking in the deflection off of the save by Taalman on a shot by Holthusen at the 15:02 mark.
Holthusen scored what proved to be the game-winning tally in the 18th minute (17:27) corralling a header from senior Adam Najem (Clifton, N.J.) and splitting the Broncos' defense and finding the corner of the net for his fifth goal of the year.
Anthony Bowie had his shot for Western Michigan blocked at the 31:26 mark before Baba Valdmanis unfurled a shot on goal that nearly netted the equalizer if not for redshirt sophomore Shane Wiedt (Akron, Ohio) clearing the ball off the line for a team save.
The Zips entered the intermission holding a 1-0 lead on the strength of outshooting the Broncos in the initial stanza, 10-8, including 8-1 on net.
Holthusen extended Akron's margin to 2-0 in the 63rd minute (62:08) registering his team-leading sixth goal of the season. Junior Niko De Vera (Camas, Wash.) played the ball in from the corner of the box to Lewis, who headed a pass to Holthusen inside the six-yard box, where he delivered on the scoring opportunity. The assist was eighth on the campaign for Lewis.
Kahsay capped the scoring for the Zips at the 85:51 mark netting his third goal on the campaign courtesy of an assist from Lewis.
Lewis now owns a team-best nine assists on the year, a mark that is tied for the national lead among freshmen in Division I.
Prior to the game, the Zips honored seniors Danilo Radjen (Broadview Heights, Ohio), Brad Ruhaak (Akron, Ohio), Goncalo Soares (Lisbon, Portugal) and Najem along with redshirt junior Tyler Sanda (North Royalton, Ohio) in Senior Night festivities.
With Akron having secured the right to host the MAC Men's Soccer Championship, season ticket holders can renew their seats for the MAC Tournament and potential NCAA Tournament games online at www.GoZips.com/tickets, by phone at (330) 972-6920, or at the Akron Athletics ticket office.
We will only accept Visa, MC, or Discover for these in case we have to credit their accounts.
If Akron does not play all three games, season ticket holders who buy the package will get a credit on their account towards their 2017 season tickets.
Package prices for the three possible games (MAC Semifinal, MAC Final, NCAA First Round) are $45/seat for reserved seats, and $30 for general admission.
We also offer fans to pay on a per-game basis and charge your credit card as we advance instead of purchasing the entire package- this can be done by either calling us or stopping by the ticket office. This feature cannot be done online.