SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Sparked by the first career multi-goal effort from sophomore Marcel Zajac (Mississauga, Ontario), the University of Akron men's soccer team registered its first road victory of the season with a 3-1 triumph past UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Sept. 9.
The win evened the Zips' ledger at 2-2 on the campaign, while the Gauchos remained winless on the year at 0-3-2.
"I was proud of the effort to get our first road win," Akron head coach Jared Embick commented. "I thought we were pretty good in the first half. In the second half, UCSB threw everything at us and fought thru. It wasn't pretty in the second half, but we showed a lot of heart. Now we have to focus on continuing our momentum into next weekend."
Zajac got the scoring started in the affair connecting on his initial goal of the season at the 6:15 mark off an assist from freshman Joáo Moutinho (Lisbon, Portugal) to give Akron a 1-0 lead. The assist for Moutinho, on what proved to be the game-winning goal, marked the first point in his collegiate career.
Zajac extended the Zips' advantage to 2-0 in the 40th minute (39:52) hammering a cross in the box by senior Sam Gainford (Liverpool, England) past UC Santa Barbara goalkeeper Alan Carrillo for his second goal of the match.
Akron outshot the Gauchos in the initial stanza 8-1, including posting a 4-1 margin in shots on goal.
UC Santa Barbara threw everything it had at the Zips in the second half and ultimately bettered Akron in shots, 4-2.
The Gauchos cut their deficit to 2-1 in the 73rd minute (72:22) when Michael Rodney delivered his first goal of the season off an assist from Brandon Magpayo.
After UC Santa Barbara was whistled for a foul in the box at the 85:38 mark, Gainford connected on a successful penalty kick to salt away a 3-1 victory for the Zips.
Akron finished the affair with a 10-5 advantage in shots, including a 6-4 edge in shots on goal.
Gainford and fellow senior Stuart Holthusen (Auckland, New Zealand) directed the Zips' efforts with three shots apiece, while Zajac recorded a pair of shots, both of which resulted in goals. Rodney posted two shots for the Gauchos.
Junior goalkeeper Ben Lundt (Berlin, Germany) registered three saves for Akron, while Carrillo also pulled in three stops for UC Santa Barbara.
The Zips return to action on Sept. 16 as Akron travels to St. Louis, Mo., for a showdown with Saint Louis. The match is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.