KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The eighth-rated University of Akron men's soccer team saw its seven-match unbeaten streak come to an end as Tommy Clark's goal in the 56th minute (55:31) propelled No. 12 Western Michigan to a 1-0 victory over the Zips (6-3-1, 0-1-0 MAC) in the Mid-American Conference opener for both schools on Saturday, Oct. 7.
"We were poor on the day this afternoon," Akron head coach Jared Embick commented. "We were not strong on the ball and we just kicked the ball instead of trying to pass. We lost focus on the back and were not tough enough individually and we had no identity today. We can't expect to win if we do not stay true to Akron Soccer and our identity. We lost sight of that today and we need to get it back Tuesday."
The Broncos edged the Zips in shots on the afternoon, 10-9, including 6-5 in shots on goal. Akron received two shots apiece from senior Manuel Cordeiro (Porto, Portugal), redshirt junior Ezana Kahsay (Asmeras, Eritrea) and freshman David Egbo (Enugu, Nigeria). Western Michigan was paced by a game-high five shots, including four on goal, from Clark.
Junior goalkeeper Ben Lundt (Berlin, Germany) recorded five saves in net for the Zips, while his counterpart, Elijah Michaels made five stops en route to collecting the clean sheet for the Broncos.
The two league foes battled through a defensive first half, one in which the Zips posted a 6-4 advantage in shots, including a 4-3 margin in shots on goal.
Senior Stuart Holthusen (Auckland, New Zealand) registered the first shot of the game for Akron placing a strike on frame at the 6:00 mark that was saved by Michaels.
Cordeiro followed with shots on goal in the 31st (30:23) and 33rd (33:39) that were again denied by saves from Michaels.
Senior Niko De Vera (Camas, Wash.) added another shot on frame at the 34:11 mark which was thwarted by a Michaels' stop.
Lundt denied a pair of Bronco shots on goal in the final five minutes of the half by Brandon Bye and Clark.
Western Michigan nearly netted the game's first goal at the 54:23 mark when Ben Thornton's header shot went just wide of the net.
Clark scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 56th minute (55:31) on an unassisted tally.
Kahsay unleashed a strike for Akron at the 73:25 mark that was blocked before having his attempt in the 76th minute (75:53) pulled in by Michaels for a save.
Egbo accounted for the Zips' final shot of the afternoon at the 78:55 mark, an attempt that went wide.
Akron opens a four-game homestand on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field hosting Cleveland State at 7 p.m.