November 20, 2016
Kathryn L. Knapp
IU men top Akron 1-0 to advance in NCAA Tourney
Chicagoland Soccer News Contributing Editor
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. Ė One goal proved to be the difference in a defensive battle vs. Indiana and Akron Sunday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Billy McConnell tallied in the 54th minute for the 1-0 advantage, and eventual win.
"This was a really good game today," IU Head Coach Todd Yeagley said. "I want to congratulate Akron on a very good season. They have a very good, very confident team. Today we played a complete game. We created some phenomenal chances. We found ourselves scoring again on a restart. I thought the team defending and decision-making was really good today. We disrupted a team that wants to dictate play and control the tempo."
Indiana didnít waste any time creating opportunities Sunday afternoon. Austin Panchot took an early shot for the Hoosiers, sending the ball directly on target in the fifth minute. Akron goalkeeper Ben Lundt made the save.
The Zips also didnít sit back for long. Akronís Niko De Vera sent a corner into the box in the 12th minute. IUís defense cleared the ball out of harmís way. After a defensive battle for the next 10 minutes, both teams picked up the intensity in the middle of the first half.
Indianaís Andrew Gutman rocketed the ball just wide goal in the 24th minute. Three minutes later, Richard Ballard dribbled toward goal, beating his defender before tapping the ball to Panchot. Panchot settled the ball and challenged the goalkeeper one on one, before shooting the ball over the crossbar and out. In the 30th minute, IU had another look as Phil Fives crossed the ball in the box. No one was able to tap it in and the ball rolled out wide for an Akron goalkick. In the 33rd minute, Cory Thomas sent the ball on target. Lundt got a hand on it, for an IU corner kick.
Akron charged down field on the counter attack in the 34th minute. Grant Lillard cleared Jonathan Lewisís attempt for a Zips corner kick. Nick Hinds kicked the ball at goal, where Hoosier goalkeeper Christian Lomeli grabbed it for the save. Akron broke away again seconds later, as Hinds shot the ball on target. Lomeli blocked the shot. Hinds recovered it, but sent the ball into the side netting.
IUís Rashad Hyacenth blasted the ball over the net in the 40th minute. Akronís Sam Gainford launched the ball on target in the 44th minute. Lomeli made the save. Gainford was slow to get up on the play. The Zips pushed again in the last minute of the half. But IUís defense was able to shut them down. At the end of the first half, the teams were in a 0-0 deadlock. Both teams recorded seven shots in the first half. Akron had a 3-1 advantage in shots on goal.
Indiana finally found the net in the 54th minute, when Tanner Thompson crossed the ball to Billy McConnell, who headed it on target. The ball appeared to bounce off of an Akron defender, but landed at McConnellís foot, who flicked it into the net for a 1-0 advantage.
"Tanner played a good ball in," McConnell said. "I got a flick on it. The defender wasnít able to react in time. I didnít really see the ball until it went in."
Akron turned up the offensive heat with just over 15 minutes left in the match. Hinds shot the ball on target, but Indianaís Andrew Gutman cleared it for a Zips corner kick. Lewis kicked the ball into the box, but it bounced out for an IU goal kick. Akron continued to push.
The Hoosiers had a couple of back-to-back chances in the 82nd minute, with Thompson sending two corner kicks into the box. Both were cleared by the Zipsí defense. Ballard dribbled toward goal one minute later, having three defenders close on to him. Thompson snuck into the box, but was called offside.
The Zips earned a corner kick in the 86th minute, but a foul on an Indiana player sent he ball in the other direction. Akron pushed forward in the 87th minute. Lomeli grabbed the ball in the 87th minute. The Zips Ezana Kahsay bumped into him in the box, for the first yellow card of the match.
Ballard streaked toward the goal in the final minute. Akron fought for the ball back, turning toward their goal. Gainford shot the ball on target with one second left. Lomeli made the save.
Indiana will host Virginia Tech next Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET in third-round NCAA Tournament action.