DALLAS, Texas - After enduring a weather delay of more than an hour, the University of Akron men's soccer team saw its three-game winning streak snapped as Emil Cuello's golden goal in the 98th minute (97:29) gave SMU (3-5-0) a come-from-behind 4-3 overtime triumph over the Zips (5-3-0) on Monday, Sept. 19.
"Disappointing result," said Akron head coach Jared Embick. "We had a two-goal lead and led 3-2 late. We have to manage that game better and get the win. Credit to SMU, they are a good team and they really competed and a guy hit a great shot for the winner. We have a week to regroup and work on things. We have to get ready for the next run of games."
The contest was a rematch of the third round 2015 NCAA Tournament match-up won by the Zips, 2-1, on Nov. 29, 2015, at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
Akron finished the affair besting the Mustangs in shots, 12-11, including posting a 9-7 advantage in shots on goal. Senior Adam Najem (Clifton, N.J.) and freshman Jonathan Lewis (Plantation, Fla.) directed the offensive attack for the Zips as the duo recorded a team-best three shots apiece. Senior Brad Ruhaak (Akron, Ohio) and redshirt freshman Skye Harter (Copley, Ohio) added two shots each for Akron. Mauro Cichero sparked the Mustangs with a game-high four shots.
Sophomore goalkeeper Ben Lundt (Berlin, Germany) made three saves for the Zips, while Michael Nelson and Nick Ruiz combined to pull in six saves for SMU.
The Zips struck first in the match as Najem registered his team-leading third goal of the season at the 18:17 mark off an assist from Lewis. The assist for Lewis was his team-best fourth of the season.
Less than a minute later, the Mustangs were whistled for a foul in the box resulting in a penalty kick for Akron. Stepping to the line and delivering his second goal of the evening was Najem in the 20th minute (19:19).
It marked the third multi-goal game in Najem's career and first since scoring three goals in a 5-0 victory past Cleveland State on Oct. 28, 2014.
The two-goal advantage was short-lived as Garrett McLaughlin cut the Zips' lead to 2-1 with his second goal of the season in the 21st minute (20:26).
Akron was outshot in the initial stanza, 5-4, but the Zips earned a 4-3 advantage in shots on goal in the first half and led at the intermission, 2-1.
Cichero evened the score at two in the 51st minute (50:05) heading in his fourth goal of the season off an assist from Eddie Munjoma.
In the 72nd minute, redshirt junior Tyler Sanda (North Royalton, Ohio) took the ball on the far sideline for the Zips and slide a pass to his left to Lewis, who was able to allude the defender and serve the ball into the six-yard box to senior Goncalo Soares (Lisbon, Portugal). He was able to get his foot on the ball and find the corner of the net for his first goal of the season at the 71:53 mark to give Akron a 3-2 lead.
The Mustangs had an answer in the 80th minute (79:39) when Cuello netted the equalizer to square the tilt at three.
A free kick from just outside the box by Najem with 53 seconds left in regulation narrowly missed finding the corner of the net.
Akron outshot the Mustangs in the second half, 7-6, including 5-3 on goal. The lone shot in overtime was on Cuello's game-winning tally.
The Zips return to action hosting VCU on Sept. 27. Game time at FirstEnergy Stadium Cub Cadet Field is set for 7:30 p.m.