By: Chris Coon
The No. 4 University of Akron Zips men’s soccer team defeated Buffalo 5-2 this past Friday night, with sophomore forward Darren Mattocks recording his second hat trick of the season at UB Stadium.
After this, his third career hat trick, Mattocks has now has recorded 15 goals in 14 games this season. Friday’s game was also the fourth time Mattocks has scored two or more goals in a game this season.
“Buffalo awakened a sleeping giant,” UA Head Coach Caleb Porter said. “I knew this team had that type of killer instinct in them. I’ve seen it for periods in a few games when their backs were against the wall. But that second half was exactly what I’ve been waiting for. With a new group, sometimes it just takes time, and finally the light bulb went on.”
The Zips improve their record now to 11-2-2 overall and 4-0 in the Mid-American Conference. The Bulls are now 7-7-1 overall and 2-2 in the MAC.
Akron in the first half had a 9-1 shot advantage but played a scoreless 45 minutes, until they scored all five goals in the second half to extend their conference unbeaten streak to 35 (33-0-2) games. With this win, the Zips are now tied with Appalachian State (1977-82) for the fourth-longest streak in NCAA history.
The game was tied at one in the 60th minute after Mattocks scored his first goal of three on the night.
Two minutes later, forward Andy Tiedt answered back for Buffalo with a penalty kick, putting the score at 2-1 in their favor. It was Tiedt’s fifth goal of the season.
Mattocks, however, responded with the equalizer, scoring his second goal of the night in the 64th minute. Senior forward Luke Holmes put the Zips up by one in the 65th minute with an unassisted goal as he beat UB’s Jonathan Viscosi at the lower left side of the net.
“Our pressure was relentless and even though we gave up a couple of goals on a counter attack and penalty kick, we really got after it and fought for 90 minutes,” Porter said. “It was great to see Luke Holmes, Reinaldo Brenes and Aodhan Quinn all come to life and play like we know they can. It was also great to see our most experienced players like Darren, Scott Caldwell and Chad Barson step up their games and put in tremendous performances.”
The Zips tacked on two more goals in the 71st and 78th minute from junior midfielder Scott Caldwell and Mattocks.
Mattocks earned his second assist of the season after he fed Caldwell the ball, who converted it into the fourth goal of the night. For Caldwell, it was his fifth goal of the season, which ranks him second on the team in scoring.
For the game, Mattocks recorded a total of seven points, while Holmes had four.
Mattocks’ has scored a total of eight goals in his last six games while currently ranking amongst the top goal scorers in the nation.
The Zips improved to 21-1-1 all-time against Buffalo, which is a series that dates back to the 1996 season.
UA has also won its last 25 regular season matches against the MAC while going 31-1-1 against conference foes during the regular season under Porter all-time.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our freshmen Wil Trapp, Bryan Gallego and DeAndre Yedlin,” Porter said. “They continue to mature and played like men tonight, and it couldn’t come at a better time. This was a comprehensive performance from start to finish. We will take a few days to recharge the batteries this weekend and then get back to work for the final stretch with three home games coming up.”
Akron will return to action this Wednesday when they open up a three-game homestand against Bowling Green at First Energy Stadium-Cub Cadet Field. Kick off will be at 7:30 p.m.