Men’s College Soccer: Akron Opens MAC Play with a Come-from-Behind 2-1 Victory at Buffalo

A successful penalty kick by junior Victor Souto in the 84th minute (83:05) lifted No. 7 Akron (9-2-1, 1-0 MAC) to a come-from-behind 2-1 men’s soccer victory over Buffalo (5-5-3, 0-1 MAC) on Friday, Oct. 9, in the Mid-American Conference opener for both schools.

“Great victory tonight, Buffalo is a tough place to play and come out with a win,” Akron head coachJared Embick commented. “Buffalo put together a great effort. With the numbers they put behind the ball we just had to keep plugging away and persevere. We got goals from unlikely players in Brad (Ruhaak) and Victor (Souto). We are a tired team and to come here and win at the end of four games in nine days is a tremendous accomplishment and speaks to the character and heart this team has. Now we have seven days to rest and refocus for a good Northern Illinois team.”

The game-winning tally was the first for Souto in his Akron career.

The Zips dominated the shot count in the affair outshooting the Bulls, 26-6, including 9-2 on goal. The 26 shots and nine shots on goal represented season-high marks for Akron.

Redshirt sophomore Sam Gainford, junior Adam Najem and redshirt junior Brad Ruhaak paced Akron registering a game-high four shots each, while senior Sean Sepe contributed three shots in reserve duty. Daniel Cramarossa directed the Buffalo attack with a team-best two shots, while the Zips limited the Bulls’ leading scorer Russell Cicerone to only one shot in the game.

Senior Jake Fenlason made one save in goal for Akron, while his counterpart for Buffalo, Joseph Kuta, recorded seven stops.

The Bulls stole the early momentum in the affair as Cicerone netted his ninth goal of the year on a successful penalty kick at the 2:34 mark.

The shot proved to be Buffalo’s lone shot on goal in the first half as the Zips outshot the Bulls, 15-2, including 5-1 on goal in the initial stanza.

Redshirt junior Goncalo Soares delivered a strike on the goal for Akron in the 12th minute (11:51) that was corralled for a save by Kuta.

Thwarted on his shot as well at the 27:47 mark off a corner kick by Gainford was Najem.

The Bulls were whistled for a foul of their own in the box in the 35th minute (34:51) to give Akron a penalty kick. Gainford stepped to the line attempting to net his sixth goal of the season, but his shot was stopped for the save.

Ruhaak parlayed a strong corner kick from Gainford at the 43:53 mark into his first goal on the campaign to square the contest at one.

Ruhaak posted the Zips’ fifth shot on goal in the half as time expired at the intermission.

Akron outshot the Bulls, 5-1, to start the second half before Sepe recorded consecutive shots on goal at the 61:14 and 65:06 marks, both of which were defended by Kuta saves.

Sophomore Stuart Holthusen added another shot on frame for Akron in the 80th minute (79:02) that was denied by a Kuta save.

Opportunity came to the Zips at the 83:05 mark when the Bulls where hit with a foul in the box to set the stage for Akron’s second penalty kick of the evening. Souto eyed his target and found the back of the net with what proved to be the game-winning tally.

Akron fended off two shot attempts down the stretch by Buffalo to secure the victory.

The Zips return to action on Oct. 17 as Akron hosts Northern Illinois in a 7 p.m. tilt at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.