The Lady Zips took advantage of the harsh conditions to throw the EMU Eagles out of sync. In a tough and gritty matchup, Zips Madison Kaser and Lani Smith provided the goals for a Zips 2-1 victory.
On what was not an ideal Friday night under the lights, the Lady Zips soccer team took on the Eastern Michigan Eagles in a cross conference matchup. The Eagles, who are reigning MAC champions, entered tonight with a 6-2-1 record and 2-0-0 in the conference. That is no longer after the Zips were able to impose themselves early and never looked back.
With the rain falling all night, the Zips took advantage of their home turf to develop an early lead. While the Eagles had a much cleaner passing attack early on, the Lady Zips used the counter attack to their advantage. Following a drive down the pitch by the Eagles, the Zips were able to take advantage of their speed on the wings to push the ball back in the opposite direction. Once getting the ball across midfield Maddie Kaser chipped the ball over the EMU defense, but was just out of the reach of Zips striker Lani Smith. It wouldn’t be much longer before the Zips were able to convert.
In the 12th minute the Zips stung together a series of excellent passes that helped open up the scoring. Senior midfielder Danielle Reymann sprinted down the right side of the pitch before passing to midfielder/forward Sarah Sivic.
Sivic decided not to take the ball for a shot, rather pulling back outside the box where she was able to find Kaser lurking behind the Eagles defense. Kaser took advantage of the wet surface and the skid of the ball simply sliding the ball into the back of the net after the EMU goalie let the ball slip right underneath her. For Kaser it was her third career goal for the Zips and first of the season.
It was not a perfectly smooth game all night, as the Eagles were able to attack in runs that would threaten the Zips early lead. Eastern Michigan is led in the attack by Angela Vultaggio with five goals followed by Bianca Rossi, who has three goals. In the 21st minute the Eagles were able to put two great shots on goal that had to get deflected by the Zips defense. Vultaggio had one of the best opportunities to grab a goal in the second half when she was able to fake a shot sending the Zips defender diving for a block. However, pulling the ball back under her feet, she was able to get a shot using her left foot, but the ball would ultimately roll wide right of the goal. The other opportunity came off some poor passing from the Zips, where Vultaggio was able to steal the ball and make a run from near midfield into the box. Slipping through the arm tackles of the Zips defenders and pulling the keeper Klair Adee off her line, Vultaggio had a wide open shot on goal. As it happens so much in sports, Vultaggio thought she had the goal before it left her foot, as she skied the ball over the goal from about 10 yards out.
The second goal for the Akron Zips was similar to the scenario above. Eastern Michigan keeper Megan McCabe ran out to make a stop, but was caught out of position by the Zips attack. After making an initial stop from Sivic and others, senior forward Lani Smith took advantage of the mistake and put a slow roller into the back of the net. The Eagles players tried to slide to knock it out, but the ball had just enough pace to make it across the line before being touched. For Smith, that was her second goal in three games since beginning MAC play.
All night long the Zips were able to keep the Eastern Michigan defense on their heels. Using their speed to their advantage, wingbacks Abby Gindlesberger and Holly Ohradzansky along with midfielders Karina Atkinson, Sydney Blomquist, and Sarah Sivic the Zips were able to clear the ball quickly on most occasions and keep pressure on the EMU defense. It was this quick ability to create on the counter attacks that lead to the goals for Kaser and Smith.
As the evening was coming to a close, the Eagles were able to get onto the board. Following a handball in the box by a Zips defender, Eastern Michigan was rewarded with a penalty shot. In the 81st minute of play EMU forward Angela Vultaggio was finally able to get onto the score sheet after a rough night on the pitch. Akron goalie Adee dove right as the EMU forward shot lower left to give the Eagles their lone goal on the night.
Following a few intense moments in the final minutes the Zips were able to hang on for the 2-1 victory. It was a massive win for the Zips and coach Vernon Croft. Following the match Croft had this to say about his team’s performance.
“I thought the weather conditions weren’t too great, but our kids persevered through that and I think the best thing about this group of players I’m coaching this year is the commitment to themselves and the program.”
One player that stood out in particular this evening to earn player of the match was redshirt sophomore Madison Kaser. Playing the full 90 minutes, plus being able to tally her first goal on the year it was a great performance for what Croft calls a “gritty player.”
“She’s a gritty kind of a player. That’s kind of her personality. So tonight was the kind of game for that kind of player. She did a heck of a job getting in there, and grinding it out. I’m happy for her. She earns it especially after hitting the cross bar against Youngstown.”
The Lady Zips have a few days off now before facing off against Bowling Green on Sunday. The Falcons of BGSU sit last in the MAC with a 1-8 record overall. Getting another victory for the Zips on Sunday would be huge for the team as they have two more home games next weekend before heading back on the road again. The match Sunday starts at 12:00 noon at FirstEnergy Stadium on the University of Akron campus.