AKRON, Ohio – The first career hat trick for sophomore Richie Laryea (Toronto, Ontario (Canada)) lifted sixth-ranked Akron (10-2-1, 2-0 MAC) to a convincing 4-0 men's soccer triumph over Northern Illinois (7-4-0, 1-1 MAC) on Saturday, Oct. 17, at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
The three-goal explosion for Laryea helped the Zips extend their winning streak to six, while marking the first hat trick for an Akron player since junior Adam Najem (Clifton, N.J.) recorded three goals in a 5-0 victory past Cleveland State on Oct. 28, 2014.
The Zips were able to secure playing time for a season-best 23 players in the contest and netted a 21-12 advantage in shots, including 13-5 on goal. The 13 shots on goal represented a season-high mark.
Redshirt sophomore Sam Gainford (Liverpool, England) posted a game-high four shots in the affair, while Laryea, Najem, junior Victor Souto (Sao Paolo, Brazil), redshirt sophomore Robby Dambrot (Akron, Ohio) and redshirt junior Goncalo Soares (Lisbon, Portugal) added three, three, two, two and two shots, respectively. Laryea's effort was even more impressive as he scored on each of his three shots. Three different Huskies recorded two shots apiece.
Senior Jake Fenlason (San Diego, Calif.) made five saves for Akron en route to notching his fifth shutout of the season. Andrew Glaeser turned in nine stops for Northern Illinois.
The Zips dominated to pace of play to begin the game as they continually pushed the ball into the Huskies' defensive third. Gainford nearly staked Akron to a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute (17:28) as his strike narrowly missed finding the corner of the net.
Najem had strong scoring opportunities at the 27:17 and 30:47 marks, but both strikes came up short of finding the goal.
Laryea capitalized on the Zips' offensive pressure scoring his team-leading seventh goal of the year at the 32:58 mark. Soares knocked a shot on goal that was deflected by a Glaeser save to the foot of Laryea, who blasted the ball into the back of the net. The assist for Soares was the first of his collegiate career.
Souto extended the Zips' margin to 2-0 in the 37th minute (36:09) connecting on his second goal on the campaign. The score was made possible by a ball played into the box off a corner kick from Gainford. The serve was cleared out of the box by the Northern Illinois defender and found a charging Souto for the tally.
Giovanni Pacheco nearly cut the Huskies' deficit to 2-1 in the 44th minute (43:01) if not for a brilliant airborne save by Fenlason.
The Zips carried a 2-0 lead into the intermission on the strength of a 10-5 shot advantage.
Inserted into the line-up to begin the second half, Dambrot was able to get off back-to-back shots on goal within the six-yard box at the 49:59 and 50:03 marks, respectively, both of which strikes were thwarted by Glaeser saves.
Gainford played a scoring role in the Zips' next goal as Laryea redirected the deflection off of Gainford's shot in the 60th minute (59:23) for his eighth goal of the year.
Less than two minutes later at the 61:02 mark, Laryea capped a three-goal evening finding himself 1v1 with Glaeser. Laryea delivered his team-leading ninth goal of the season on the shot off assists from Gainford and Soares.
Akron returns to action on Wednesday, Oct. 21, as the Zips welcome Michigan State to FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field for a 7 p.m. tilt.