BOWLING GREEN - The University of Akron got a pair of first-half goals less than two minutes apart en route to a 2-0 win over the Bowling Green State University men's soccer team Saturday night (Sept. 22). The match, the Mid-American Conference opener for both teams, was held at Cochrane Field.
With the win, the Zips improved to 5-1-2 on the season. Akron, ranked No. 7 in the nation in the Soccer America poll and No. 10 in three other polls, has gone 39 consecutive MAC matches without a loss, dating to 2007.
The Falcons drop to 2-4-2 on the season.
Alfred Koroma scored the Zips' first goal on a turnaround shot from the top of the box. The goal came at the 17:32 mark, less than a minute after Koroma had entered the match.
Then, Scott Caldwell doubled UA's lead with his team-leading fifth goal of the year just 1:41 after Koroma's score. Caldwell made a long run and hit a low shot which caromed off of the right goalpost and into the net.
That was all that David Meves and his defense would need, as the UA goalkeeper made six saves to earn the shutout. BGSU's total of 10 shot attempts on the night included an effort by fifth-year senior Zach Lemke that was deflected by an Akron defender and rang off of the post in the second half.
BGSU junior Michael Wiest made eight saves on the night, as the Zips had a total of 30 shot attempts and a 10-6 edge in shots on goal.
The Falcons had the first chance of the night, as junior Anthony Grant played a cross to Lemke from the left side of the pitch. Lemke took several touches and fired a low shot from the top of the box, but Meves was there to grab the ball on the short hop with just over three minutes gone.
Nearly 10 minutes into the match, the Zips' Eric Stevenson drilled a shot in the direction of Wiest's head, but the BG junior parried the shot and grabbed the ball to prevent a rebound.
The visitors began to control the possession, however, and UA had several dangerous chances. A Caldwell shot was blocked, and Dillon Serna's rebound try was saved by Wiest. Two minutes later, Stevenson fired another scorcher that was knocked down by the BG 'keeper. This time, Serna's rebound try glanced off the top of the crossbar and out of play.
The Zips broke through on Koroma's goal, just 52 seconds after he had entered the match. Serna played a ball toward Koroma, and a BG defender was able to get a foot on the ball, but was unable to keep it from reaching the UA freshman. Koroma turned and fired a shot that eluded Wiest and gave the Zips the lead.
Then, Caldwell gave his team a two-goal margin, making a long run and hitting a worm-burner back across his body and into the lower-right-hand corner of the net.
The Zips had several more close calls in the first half, including a shot by Serna that hit the post midway through the period. The rebound went to Koroma, who had a wide-open net in front of him but who fired high of the target from 10 yards out.
With just under two minutes remaining in the half, Lemke made a long run for the Falcons, a run that culminated with a shot that went just wide of the frame.
A minute later, however, sophomore Danny Baraldi hit a shot from distance that forced Meves to dive to his left to knock the ball over the line for a corner kick. BG had two corner kicks in the final 40 seconds of the half, but both times, Meves deflected the ball out of play. The first-half horn sounded before the Falcons could line up for a third successive corner kick.
In the second half, BG had several strong chances just over five minutes apart. The first came when Lemke stole the ball and fired a shot from the 18-yard line. The ball was deflected by a UA defender, hit the right goalpost as Meves made a dive in that direction and went out of bounds for a corner kick, but that corner sailed out of play.
The second chance, which came in the 58th minute of play, saw Grant gain possession of the ball in the Akron box after a giveaway by Meves. The BG junior quickly got off a shot, but the UA 'keeper was able to block the point-blank shot on the right side of the six-yard box.
UA possess the ball for much of the half, but Falcons had several more cracks at goal. Freshman Ryan James played a ball to junior Ryan Comiskey, who was running toward the top of the box, just left of center, with 15 minutes remaining. Comiskey shot toward the far post, but Meves was there to make the save.
Comiskey's effort was the final shot on goal of the match for either team.
Lemke led the Falcons with four total shot attempts, including two on goal and a third that hit the post. For the Zips, Stevenson (nine) and Caldwell (seven) combined for no fewer than 16 shots on the night, putting seven of those on goal.
BGSU had seven corners on the night, tying a season high. The Zips had nine, with a 4-3 edge in the first half and a 5-4 margin in the second.
The Falcons conclude a three-match homestand on Tuesday (Sept. 25) with a match against Milwaukee. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. at Cochrane. Following the UWM contest, BG returns to MAC play with a Friday (Sept. 28) match at Hartwick.