AKRON, Ohio - Despite out-shooting 12th-seeded Creighton 31-11 during the run of play, the fifth-seeded University of Akron men's soccer team had its postseason fate decided by penalty kicks in the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium - Cub Cadet Field.
After the two teams played to a 1-all tie at the end of the second overtime period, the Bluejays defeated the Zips, 5-4, in the shootout to advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals and put an abrupt end to one of the greatest seasons in UA history.
It was an unlikely result for the Zips (18-1-3), who dictated play for the large majority of the contest and posted a 10-2 advantage for shots on goal. In particular, Akron out-shot Creighton 11-2 over the course of the two overtime periods but couldn't find the golden goal.
UA's best chance came just 27 seconds into the first overtime period when Ceighton's Jose Ribas was whistled for a handball in the box on a shot by Thomas Schmitt. Scott Caldwell took the ensuing penalty kick but Bluejays' goalkeeper Jeff Gal made a great save and the teams played on. It was a costly call for Ribas, who was shown his second yellow card of the match, and Creighton was forced to play a man short the rest of the way.
Just seconds later, a corner kick by Aodhan Quinn found the head of Saad Abdul-Salaam, who flicked it on from the top of the six. But the sophomore's strike was just long as it banged off the far post and out of play.
Gal, who finished with eight saves on the day, was particularly effective in the second overtime period as he made four stops in the last 10 minutes alone.
The Zips took an early 1-0 lead in the 12th minute when Reinaldo Brenes chipped a shot into the back of the net. A long pass from midfield off the foot of Wil Trapp sprung Brenes, who made Gal pay for coming off his line. Brenes, who was making his first start in five games because of an injury, finished his breakout season with a team-high 11 goals.
Akron took a 1-0 lead into the break and held off Creighton for the majority of the second half until Timo Pitter found the equalizer in the 83rd minute. Andrew Ribeiro slipped the ball to Pitter, who absorbed some contact and finished from 12 yards out.
Caldwell nearly got the goal back for Akron just before the end of the second half, but his mid-ranged strike hit off the crossbar.
The first three shooters from both sides each connected in the penalty kick shootout. But a miss by Akron opened the door for the Bluejays, who converted all five attempts. Pitter, CU's final shooter, found the back of the net to clinch the result for Creighton (16-3-3).
Zips Notebook: Caleb Porter, who will become the head coach of the Portland Timbers from Major League Soccer in December, finished his Akron career with a seven-year record of 123-18-17 ... During his watch, Akron posted the highest winning percentage among all Division I schools ... Porter led the Zips to the school's first team national championship in any sport in 2010 and became one of the fastest coaches in NCAA history to reach 100 career wins in 2011 ... The Zips' 18 wins in 2012 rank third-highest in school history while their 16 shutouts are the second-best single season total all-time ... Akron allowed just eight goals in 22 matches this year, which is the second-lowest total in program history ... UA finished with a program-best 426 shots as a team.
University of Akron