AKRON, Ohio – University of Akron freshman Joao Moutinho (Lisbon, Portugal) scored a pair of goals, while redshirt sophomore Skye Harter (Copley, Ohio) garnered three assists to spark the 12th-rated Zips (8-3-1, 1-1-1 MAC) to a 3-1 triumph past SIU Edwardsville (6-7-0, 1-1-1 MAC) in Mid-American Conference action on Friday, Oct. 13, at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
The boot was the first multi-goal performance for Moutinho as a Zip and represented the fourth time this season in which and Akron player has registered two or more goals in a game.
Moutinho joined sophomore Marcel Zajac (Mississauga, Ontario) and seniors Sam Gainford (Liverpool, England) and Nate Shultz (Mayfield, Ohio), who matched the feat with two-goal efforts against UC Santa Barbara (Sept. 9), UMass Lowell (Sept. 24) and Michigan State (Sept. 27), respectively.
The three assists by Harter marked the first time since Gainford posted a trio of helpers against Ohio State on Sept. 16, 2015, that a Zips' player has record three assists in a game.
Akron jumped out to an early 1-0 advantage in the tilt on the strength of the third goal on the campaign for Zajac, just 1:17 into the league showdown. Harter played a beautiful ball along the endline and fired a strike that found Zajac inside the six-yard box for the goal.
Zajac nearly extended Akron's lead to 2-0 in the 11th minute (10:42) as he fired a laser on a diving attempt from 12 yards out which knocked SIU Edwardsville goalkeeper Kyle Dal Santo off his feet, but the Cougars cleared the deflection of the save off the line to prevent the tally.
Senior Stuart Holthusen (Auckland, New Zealand) added the Zips' third shot on goal of the first half at the 26:05 mark, a strike that was saved by Dal Santo.
Akron finished the initial stanza owning a 9-3 advantage in shots, including a 3-0 edge in shots on goal.
A defensive miscue at the top of the box in the 60th minute (59:33) resulted in Jorge Gonzalez netting the equalizer for the Cougars. Devyn Jambga tallied the assist on the fourth goal of the year for Gonzalez.
Less than two minutes later at the 61:12 mark, the Zips had an answer of their own as Moutinho headed home his second goal on the campaign. Harter delivered a ball into the box off a corner kick to freshman Daniel Strachan (Lakewood, Ohio), who headed the delivery in front of the goal to his right to a charging Moutinho, who connected on a header of his own for the score.
Akron again found success off of a corner kick in the 73rd minute (72:33) as Moutinho gave the Zips a 3-1 lead with his third goal of the season. Harter struck a corner kick to the top of the box to senior Pau Belana (Barcelona, Catalonia), who found Moutinho inside the edge of the six-yard box for the tally.
Akron finished the evening with a 15-7 edge in shots, including a 5-2 difference in shots on goal.
Zajac directed the Zips' attack with a game-high four shots, while Moutinho and Belana added three shots apiece. Seven different SIU Edwardsville players garnered a shot for the Cougars.
Redshirt freshman Tor Saunders (Seattle, Wash.) made one save for the Zips in goal, while Dal Santo made a pair of stops for SIU Edwardsville.
Prior to the game, Akron head coach Jared Embick and SIU Edwardsville head coach Mario Sanchez came together at midfield to honor the life of Billy Berger, who passed away in May at the age of 27. Embick and Sanchez were joined by the Berger family. Akron recognized a beloved member of the Zips' NCAA Championship team of 2010, as Berger served as a team manager for four seasons. Berger most recently was the director of men's soccer operations for the Cougars for four seasons.
Akron returns to action on Tuesday, Oct. 17, as the Zips welcome No. 7 Notre Dame to FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field for a 7 p.m. clash. The Fighting Irish will be playing in Akron for the first time since 2002.