Offense falters as Akron zips up Michigan

Paul Sherman/Daily
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By Nathaniel Clark, Daily Sportswriter
Published October 14, 2014

Coming into Tuesday night’s game, Akron was undefeated at home in 2014.

And the Zips’ (7-4-1) record at FirstEnergy Stadium remained untainted, as they defeated the Michigan men’s soccer team 3-0. The Wolverines have never won in Akron.

“Akron is certainly one of the best teams in the country,” said Michigan coach Chaka Daley. “We’ve played five games in the last 15 days, and I think we’re tired.”

Akron’s scoring began early when Zips forward Stuart Holthusen pushed a shot by fifth-year senior goalkeeper Adam Grinwis in the sixth minute. Nine minutes later, a foul was called in the box on Michigan (4-6-2), setting midfielder Adam Najem up for a penalty kick. Najem converted and put the Zips up 2-0.

In spite of the early onslaught by Akron, the Wolverines had some scoring chances in the first half. In the 25th minute, redshirt junior midfielder Colin McAtee narrowly missed sophomore forward Ahinga Selemani on a cross from the left. Michigan ended the first half with five corner kicks.

“We were too relaxed in the first half,” Daley said.

In the second half, rain and wind made the field conditions resemble a slip n’ slide. But Daley said it was a non-factor.

“The weather deteriorated as the game went on,” he said. “But by that point the game was so far gone. There really isn’t that much of a difference between losing 2-0 and 3-0.”

The Wolverines had a few golden opportunities to score as the game progressed. Fifteen minutes into the second half, junior midfielder William Mellors-Blair escaped a defender on the right flank, but no teammate was nearby to assist him. In the next eight minutes, Mellors-Blair created two more chances, including a shot that traveled just above the crossbar.

“We sorted out some things in the locker room before the second half,” Daley said. “We had more energy.” 

Michigan had seven shots on goal in the second half while the Zips had six.

But Akron ultimately controlled the action as the Wolverines managed just one corner kick the rest of the game. It appeared the final score would be 2-0 in favor of the Zips, until in the 88th minute, Akron forward Anthony Macchione scored his first career goal.

The loss snapped the Wolverines’ three-game winning streak, which included a 3-2 victory over then-No. 6 Notre Dame and a 3-0 win over Rutgers. During that stretch, Michigan outscored its opponents, 8-3. Before Tuesday, the Wolverines had not been shut out since its 1-0 overtime loss to Western Michigan on Oct. 1.

If there’s any solace the Wolverines can take after Tuesday’s game, it’s that they have historically played well in October under Daley. They are 12-7-1 in the month during his tenure and have three consecutive home games remaining before Halloween.

“We’ve definitely shown that we can play well against the best teams in the country,” Daley said. “Right now, the best thing we can do is rest, regroup and mentally prepare for Detroit Mercy (Oct. 21). We have to take it one game at a time.”