AKRON, Ohio – A pair of goals from senior Sam Gainford (Liverpool, England) sparked the University of Akron men's soccer team to a dominating 5-0 victory over No. 21 UMass Lowell (4-3-1) on Sunday, Sept. 24, at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Gainford's first multi-goal effort of the season and third of his career enabled the Zips (3-2-1) to extend their unbeaten streak to four entering a home showdown with top-rated Michigan State on Wednesday, Sept. 27.
Temperatures approached 90 degrees at kickoff and Akron controlled the pace of the attack from the start spending much of the first half hour of play on the River Hawks' side of the pitch.
Gainford nearly gave the Zips an early tally in the 12th minute (11:30) as his goal off a pass from redshirt junior Ezana Kahsay (Asmeras, Eritrea) was waved off on an offsides call.
The Zips' offensive attack paid dividends at the 32:50 mark when Gainford connected on what proved to be the game-winning goal to give Akron a 1-0 lead. Freshman David Egbo (Enugu, Nigeria), who came on as a defensive replacement in the 31st minute (30:18), pushed the ball in the box where Gainford gained control and delivered a ball to corner of the net to beat UMass Lowell goalkeeper Austin Kroll for the goal. The assist was the first career point for Egbo.
Egbo added another first to his playing resume in the 40th minute (39:29) when he found the back of the net for his initial collegiate goal off a spectacular header to extend Akron's advantage to 2-0. Freshman Joáo Moutinho (Lisbon, Portugal) played in a ball from the corner of the box to a leaping Egbo, who headed into the net.
The Zips outshot the River Hawks in the opening half, 6-0, including 2-0 on goal.
Gainford pushed Akron's lead to 3-0 in the 52nd minute (51:32) intercepting a defensive pass inside the six-yard box and striking a ball that found the corner of the net for his team-best fourth goal of the season.
The Zips were whistled for a foul in the box at the 55:37 mark that resulted in a penalty shot for UMass Lowell. Ivan Blaskic stepped to the ball and delivered a strike that was thwarted by a diving save from junior goalkeeper Ben Lundt (Berlin, Germany) to retain the shutout.
Delivering a laser which found the back of the net from just outside the 18-yard box to give the Zips a 4-0 lead at the 56:53 mark was sophomore Nick Hinds (Plantation, Fla.).
Senior Manuel Cordeiro (Porto, Portugal) added a key defensive play in the 58th minute (57:30) when he cleared a ball off the goal line for a team save off a shot from Richard Mulo.
Redshirt freshman Jackson Crawford (Massillon, Ohio) capped the scoring for Akron at the 87:38 mark garnering his first career goal. Earning his first career assist as a Zip was redshirt junior Joe Korb (Willowick, Ohio).
Akron, who saw 22 players earning playing time, concluded the afternoon with a 15-4 margin in shots, including 5-3 on goal. Gainford posted a team-best four shots, while Cordeiro and Kahsay each added two shots of their own. Additionally, seven other Zips registered shots in the tilt. Mulo paced the River Hawks with a team-high three shots.
Lundt collected a pair of saves for Akron to notch the Zips' third clean sheet of the season. Kroll made five saves for UMass Lowell.
Akron registered its first 5-0 victory since posting an identical triumph over Cleveland State on Oct. 28, 2014. The five goals are the most for the Zips since a 7-0 decision past Northern Illinois on Oct. 15, 2016.
Akron returns to action hosting top-rated Michigan State on Wednesday, Sept. 27. Game time at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field is set for 7 p.m.