AKRON, Ohio - A successful 77th minute (76:18) penalty kick from junior Adam Najem (Clifton, N.J.) coupled with the second straight clean sheet from senior goalkeeper Jake Fenlason (San Diego, Calif.) lifted No. 7 Akron (6-2-1) to a 1-0 men's soccer triumph past Penn State (4-3-2) on Wednesday, Sept. 30, at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
The Zips dominated the pace of lay in the affair as Akron registered a 24-6 advantage in shots, including 5-3 on goal.
The outcome of the game turned when the Nittany Lions were whistled for a pivotal handball call in the box at the 76:18 mark. The Zips rewarded their captain with the opportunity to take the penalty kick and Najem delivered finding the back of the net with his team-leading fifth goal of the season.
Akron was then able to lock down defensively over the final 13 minutes to secure its second consecutive victory.
Sophomore Richie Laryea (Toronto, Ontario (Canada)) recorded a game-high six shots for the Zips, while redshirt sophomore Sam Gainford (Liverpool, England) added five shots. Coming off the bench to start the second half and post three shots was sophomore Stuart Holthusen (Auckland, New Zealand).
Additionally, Najem, junior Victor Souto (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and redshirt junior Goncalo Soares (Lisbon, Portugal) each netted a pair of shots. Robby Sagel and Dani Marks directed Penn State's offensive efforts with two shots apiece. The Zips also held the Nittany Lion's leading scorer, Connor Maloney to only one shot.
Fenlason pulled in three saves for Akron en route to collecting his second straight and third shutout of the season. His counterpart for Penn State, Matt Bersano matched Fenlason with three saves of his own.
Laryea played in the Zips' first scoring opportunity in the first half directing a shot that was deflected by a Bersano save in the 33rd minute (32:05).
Najem nearly gave Akron a 1-0 lead at the 35:44 mark, but his strike was blocked in the box by a Penn State defender.
The Zips entered the intermission locked in scoreless tilt despite outshooting Penn State in the initial stanza, 11-3.
Sophomore Jesse Garcia-Aguilar (Portland, Ore.) got off a shot in the 52nd minute (51:42) for Akron that was thwarted by a Bersano save.
At the 57:43 mark, Souto guided a ball into the box that a sliding Laryea narrowly missed finding the top of the net as the strike sailed just high.
In the 72nd minute (71:26), Holthusen got off a laser from approximately 12 yards out that only a team save by the Nittany Lions kept Akron off the scoreboard.
The Zips nearly extended their advantage to 2-0 at the 79:27 mark as senior Sean Sepe's (West Islip, N.Y.) shot went just wide of the mark.
The victory was the second of the season for Akron against a Big Ten Conference school as the Zips earlier defeated Maryland (3-2 on Sept. 7), while earning a 3-3 draw with Ohio State on Sept. 16.
Akron returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 3, as the Zips travel to Birmingham, Ala., for a showdown with UAB. Game time is slated for 8 p.m. ET.