MORGANTOWN, W.VA. - A goal from sophomore Colin Biros (Jackson, Ohio) in the 72nd minute (71:43) propelled the University of Akron men's soccer team to its 20th Mid-American Conference regular season title as the Zips (6-9-2, 4-0-1 MAC) persevered through the elements to garner a 1-0 victory over West Virginia (6-8-1, 0-4-1 MAC) on Thursday, Nov. 7.
By virtue of the triumph, Akron has earned the right to host MAC Championship, Nov. 15-17, at FirstEnergy Stadium, where the Zips will battle the winner of the No. 4/5 seed quarterfinal match slated for Tuesday, Nov. 12, on Friday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. The other semifinal contest will be played at 3 p.m., with the championship tilt slated for 1 p.m. on Nov. 17.
The victory marked a historic milestone for seventh-year head coach Jared Embick, who earned his 100th career win as Akron head coach. Embick's 100 triumphs since 2013 are the second-most in Division 1 men's soccer.
On a night when the Zips only registered one shot on goal, it was Biros adding another memorable header goal for his second tally of the season. Junior David Egbo (Enugu, Nigeria) delivered a ball down the wing to redshirt junior Diogo Pacheco (Lisbon, Portugal), who lofted a cross into the box to the far post that Biros connected on for the game-winning tally. Ebgo and Pacheco were credited with assists on the goal.
The Zips were nearly forced into overtime as they got a fortuitous bounce on a shot inside three yards from Kevin Morris that hit the post and bounded down towards the goal line. In the scrum, redshirt junior goalkeeper Tor Saunders (Seattle, Wash.) appeared to get a hand on the deflection before sophomore Carlo Ritaccio (Westbury, N.Y.) was able to push the ball off the line to end the scoring threat for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia finished the evening posting a 12-5 advantage in shots, including a 4-1 edge in shots on goal.
Five different Zips collected one shot apiece in the affair, while the Mountaineers were directed by two shots each from Morris, Luke McCormick, Tony Pineda and Ethan Shim.
Saunders made three saves in net for Akron en route to notching his second shutout on the campaign, while Steven Tekesky was unable to stop the Zips' lone shot on goal in the match.
Saunders denied the first shot on goal in the match with a save, a strike by by Shim in the 30th minute (29:43).
West Virginia had its best scoring opportunity in the opening stanza come at the 44:19 mark as Pineda's shot from the corner of the box was cleared off the line for a team save by Ritaccio.
The Mountaineers outshot the Zips over the opening 45 minutes, 5-2, including a 2-0 edge in shots on goal.
Saunders made a strong diving save in the box in the 53rd minute (52:15) off a strike from Pineda, before thwarting a shot on goal from Josh DiMatteo with a stop at the 58:22 mark.
The Zips broke the scoring stalemate in the 72nd minute (71:43) when Biros found the back of the net with the header.
Each side registered two shot apiece over the final 18 minutes of regulation, but it was Akron who was able to hold on to earn the victory.
Up next for Akron, the Zips host the MAC Men's Soccer Championship, Nov. 15-17, at FirstEnergy Stadium. Full tournament seeding will be released by the MAC following the conclusion of a pair of league matches on Saturday, Nov. 9.