UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas — Behind a pair of goals from Darren Mattocks, Akron danced into the Round of 16 for the fourth-consecutive season with a 3-2 victory at sixth-seeded SMU on Sunday.
Mattocks opened the scoring in the 22nd minute and found the net again in the 76th minute to lead the UA attack. With 21 goals in 22 matches, the Jamaican striker is now tied for third place on the school’s single-season scoring list.
In fact, his 21 goals are the most scored by an Akron player since All-American Matt English matched the total in 1982.
His third goal, which gave the Zips a 3-0 lead with less than 15 minutes to play, proved to be the difference as UA survived a scare from the Mustangs (13-7-1), who cut the margin to one with two goals coming just 34 seconds apart. Both goals came in the 83rd minute and on set pieces; the second on a penalty kick.
But Akron kept its composure and finished out the match. UA is now unbeaten in its last 12 matches during the regular run of play in the NCAA Tournament, dating back to the 2009 season.
It was also another big night for senior Luke Holmes, who added Akron’s second goal in the 63rd minute off a direct free kick from 28 yards out. The striker fired a low, one-hopper through the SMU wall and past Mustangs’ keeper Jaime Ibarra, who finished with eight saves. Holmes, who also sprung Mattocks on UA’s third goal with a long pass from midfield, recorded a game-high six shots, four on frame.
Although the shots margin was close, with UA holding a 18-16 edge, the Zips were clearly the more dangerous team for the large majority of play with 11 shots on goal, compared to five for SMU. In fact, all but one Mustangs’ shot on frame came in the second half.
Akron was sharp from the opening whistle and had the Mustangs on their heels for much of the game.
Holmes had the game’s first scoring chance in the sixth minute with a shot from straight on, but Ibarra dove to his right to make the stop. Scott Caldwell also had an opportunity in the 21st minute when Holmes slipped him the ball near the middle of the penalty area. But once again, Ibarra was there again to turn the Zips away.
UA’s persistence paid off just one minute later however when Mattocks found the net for the second consecutive game on a beautiful sequence.
Aodhan Quinn, who had the ball deep in Mustangs’ territory, kicked it out to DeAndre Yedlin, who was waiting near the top right corner of the box. The true freshman then followed with a cross into the penalty area where Mattocks buried it near back post with a diving header from close range.
Akron maintained its pressure and found the second goal in the 63rd minute after Thomas Schmitt was taken down from behind in the middle of the field. Holmes made the Mustangs pay with his first goal of the NCAA Tournament after adding two assists against Northwestern Thursday.
Holmes then provided the entry pass that sprung Mattocks in the 76th minute. Mattocks, who took the pass in stride, beat his man then slammed the ball home for what would prove to be the eventual game winner.