Sept. 3, 2010
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The No. 1 University of Akron men’s soccer team officially kicked off the 2010 season in convincing fashion with a 3-0 victory over No. 4 North Carolina Friday night at Fetzer Field.
Akron (1-0-0) received first-half goals from redshirt freshman in Eric Stevenson and true freshman Perry Kitchen and junior Darlington Nagbe added another score for good measure to lead the Zips to their fourth straight opening day victory – each coming against a nationally ranked opponent – under head coach Caleb Porter.
“It was an efficient win,” said Porter, the 2009 NSCAA Coach of the Year. “North Carolina (0-1-0) is a very good team and the game was probably a little closer than the final score indicated. But we were opportunistic and we finished our chances. They had some good looks though I’m not so sure they had as many as the box score would tell you.
“That being said, they could have scored a couple of goals and we need to do a better job defensively as we move forward. But overall, I thought we deserved to win and we did what we needed to do to win.”
The Zips wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as Stevenson gave the Zips a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute.
Kofi Sarkodie initiated the action with a run that pushed the ball deep into UNC territory along the right side of the box. After beating his man, Sarkodie crossed the ball into the middle of the field where Stevenson burried his shot into the back of the net from about eight yards out.
Sophomore goal keeper David Meves, a Freshman All-American in 2009, came up with two big saves shortly after to preserve the early lead. Junior forward Alex Dixon gave UNC its first scoring opportunity in the 11th minute by slipping past his man and firing a shot from about 18 yards out but Meves was there to gobble it up.
Then in the 12th minute, after the Tar Heels drew a corner kick, Meves came up with another stop, this time by grabbing a header by Steven McCarthy. In all, it was a big night for Meves, who finished the game with six saves while posting his first shutout of the campaign.
UA made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute on a perfectly executed set piece. Freshman striker Darren Mattocks drew a foul from about 22 yards out on the right side of the field near the box. Junior Michael Nanchoff curved the ensuing free kick towards the net where Kitchen leaped in to head it home from close range.
UNC made a strong push to get back into the game with five straight shots to start the second half. But the Zips’ defense was up to the task. Meves thwarted the only shot on goal during that sequence – a mid-ranged attempt from Dixon – to keep the shutout in tact.
Nagbe, another one of the Zips’ Hermann Trophy candidates, finished off a beautiful lob pass from Chris Korb in the 65th minute and put away the Tar Heels for good.
UA picked up the victory despite being on the short end of a number of statistical categories, including shots (6-14), shots on goal (5-6) and corner kicks (0-5). But they were efficient with their opportunities and controlled the ball for much of the second half to win the most important category on the scoreboard.
The road doesn’t get any easier for Akron, which will next travel to No. 3 Wake Forest Sunday for a 7 p.m. match.