AKRON, Ohio - In a battle of two of the more storied men's soccer programs in the country, a pair of second-half goals lifted No. 25 UCLA (8-7-1) to a 4-2 victory over sixth-ranked Akron (12-3-1) on Sunday, Nov. 1, at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
In a contest that was not indicative of the final score, the Zips and Bruins waged a non-conference showdown in which each side battle back and forth en route to recording 11 shots, with UCLA posting a 5-4 margin in shots on goal.
Junior Adam Najem (Clifton, N.J.) led all players with four shots for Akron, while redshirt sophomore Sam Gainford (Liverpool, England) added two shots. Seyi Adekoya paced the Bruins' attack with three shots, while three different UCLA players contributed a pair of shots.
Senior Jake Fenlason (San Diego, Calif.) made one save for the Zips, while Pepe Barroso Silva corralled two stops for UCLA.
Trailing 2-1 early in the second half, redshirt junior Goncalo Soares (Lisbon, Portugal) netted the equalizer at the 53:14 mark to square Akron and UCLA at two. Sophomore Stuart Holthusen (Auckland, New Zealand) beautifully played ball in ball from the corner of the box that Soares curled into the corner of the net from the top corner of the box for his first career goal.
Najem narrowly missed giving the Zips their first lead of the evening in the 75th minute (74:13) as his strike the box struck the crossbar.
The Bruins immediately stole the momentum off of the miss as Abu Danladi pushed the ball up the field to Adekoya, who scored his second goal of the game and his 11th of the season, for what proved to be the game-winning tally, at the 74:27 mark.
The Zips were whistled for a foul in the box in the 82nd minute (81:08) that resulted in a successfully penalty kick for Jose Hernandez to give UCLA the final 4-2 margin.
Adekoya opened the scoring in the affair converting a defensive turnover into his 10th goal of the year at the 7:14 mark off an assist from Danladi.
Najem evened the game at one in the 29th minute (28:12) for his eighth of the season. Sophomore Niko De Vera (Camas, Wash.) played the ball up the sideline to Holthusen in the center of the field, who slide a long pass into a streaking Najem for the equalizer.
Gainford got off a strong strike on a ball played into the box from the corner by freshman Pau Belana (Barcelona, Catalonia) at the 29:27 mark.
The Bruins took a 2-1 lead into the intermission on the strength of a 30th minute (29:58) goal from Hernandez.
UCLA outshot the Zips in the initial stanza, 5-4.
Before the game, Akron paid it forward donning special t-shirts to promote awareness and help raise funds for Ashland head women's soccer coach Danny Krispinsky ('Dan the Man Fund'), who is currently battling colon cancer.
Akron closes out the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 7, as the Zips host Bowling Green on Senior Night. Game time at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field is set for 7 p.m. Akron will honor its three seniors in Fenlason, Andrew Souders (Amherst, Ohio) and Sean Sepe (West Islip, N.Y.) in pre-game ceremonies. The Zips need a win or a tie in the affair to earn the outright Mid-American Conference regular season title and the right to host the MAC Championship (Nov. 13-15).