AKRON, Ohio – A game-winning goal in the 88th minute (87:49) from redshirt junior Tyler Sanda (North Royalton, Ohio) lifted the top-rated University of Akron men's soccer team to a dramatic 1-0 triumph past No. 9 Seattle (1-1) in the finale of the Akron Classic on Sunday, Aug. 28, at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
The goal capped a furious second-half attack from the Zips (2-0) that resulted in the second victory over a top-10 ranked opponent this weekend as Akron captured the title at the Akron Classic.
The game-winner was set-up by a beautiful offensive attack from senior Adam Najem (Clifton, N.J.), who served a cross into the box to Sanda, who drilled a ball from 10 yards out that bested Seattle goalkeeper RJ Noll.
Heavy rains and a fierce lightning display delayed the start of the affair for more than 20 minutes before the two teams got underway just before 8 p.m. ET.
Sparked by a 15-7 advantage in second-half shots, the Zips outshot the Redhawks on the evening, 22-15, despite being bettered on shots on goal, 8-6.
Redshirt junior Sam Gainford (Liverpool, England) recorded a game-high five shots for Akron, while the Zips also benefited from four shots in reserve duty courtesy of Sanda. Najem, redshirt sophomore Ezana Kahsay (Asmeras, Eritrea) and freshman Marcel Zajac (Mississauga, Ontario) added three, three and two shots, respectively, for Akron. Sergio Rivas directed the Redhawks with a game-best five shots.
Sophomore Ben Lundt (Berlin, Germany) registered a career-best eight saves for Akron en route to collecting his second clean sheet of the season. Noll posted five saves for Seattle.
Four Zips' freshmen garnered their initial career starts in the game as Nick Hinds (Plantation, Fla.), Jonathan Lewis (Plantation, Fla.), Jesus Perez (Waukegan, Ill.) and Zajac were on the field from the opening tip.
Seattle came out the aggressors early in the affair as the RedHawks bettered the Zips in shots in the initial stanza, 8-7, including a 5-1 margin in shots on goal. Zajac accounted for Akron's lone shot on frame in the opening 45 minutes, a strike that was saved by Noll for a save at the 4:31 mark.
Redshirt junior Pau Belana (Barcelona, Catalonia) posted the Zips' second shot on goal at the 60:53 mark with a shot that was pulled in for a save by Noll.
Najem nearly bent in a free kick from just outside the box in the 71st minute (70:19), but was again thwarted by a Noll save.
Junior Nate Shultz (Mayfield, Ohio) played a strong ball on net for Akron off a clearance on a corner kick at the 73:37 mark that again was denied by Noll.
In the 80th minute (79:48), Sanda targeted the goal with a shot that was corralled by Noll for the save, before Gainford followed unfurling a laser that struck the underside of the crossbar at the 81:36 mark and bounded out denying the Zips a goal.
The game-winning goal was set-up by Najem intercepting the offensive attack by Seattle and driving up the midfield before serving the ball into Sanda for the goal.
Akron returns to action traveling to San Diego State for a 10 p.m. ET game on Friday, Sept. 2.