Men's Soccer Battles No. 18 Akron to 0-0 Tie
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; October 6, 2006 - The Penn State attack peppered No. 18 Akron with 22 shots but none could find net, forcing the Nittany Lions to settle for a 0-0 tie with the Zips in Friday evening's non-conference match-up at Jeffrey Field.
Penn State achieved that shot total against an Akron defense that, entering tonight's game, had held opponents to 69 for the entire season, a 6.9 shot per game average. Even without the two overtime periods, the Nittany Lions got off 19 shots. Senior forward Simon Omekanda (Rochester Hills, Mich.) led Penn State with six while sophomore midfielder Michael Janov (Vienna, Austria), seeing his first significant action of the season, had several good looks at the goal, totaling three. Akron countered with 14 shots for the game.
However, with the scoreless tie, defense was the main story of the game with Penn State goalkeeper Conrad Taylor (Colorado Springs, Colo.) taking center stage. The junior recorded three saves en route to his first shutout of the 2006 season. With 19 for his career, Taylor is now tied with former netminding great Whit Gibson (1998-99) for fourth place on Penn State's career shutouts list. With his next shutout, he will move into a third place tie in the all-time rankings with Ron Haag (1936-38). Greg Kenney owns the Nittany Lion record, earning 28.25 shutouts over a career that spanned from 1981 through 1984.
The Penn State backline of Markku Viitanen (Pirkkala, Finland), Geordie MacNeill (Richmond Hill, Ont.), David Gray (Lemont, Pa.), and Stephen Reihner (Washington, Pa.) also contributed much to the shutout effort, thwarting numerous Akron scoring chances with heads-up and timely play.
In the first half, Penn State was able to create offensive opportunities but was unable to convert on them. Several shots, including two long-distance blasts off the foot of starting midfielder Frank Costigliola (Dix Hills, N.Y.), sailed high of Akron's six-foot, three-inch goalkeeper, Evan Bush, and of the net.
Midway through the second half, it appeared that a brilliant combination play had earned Penn State a 1-0 lead. Freshman Alex Wentzel (Reading, Pa.) crossed a pass to near the top of the box that Simon Omekanda stabbed at with a skillful dive and put in net. However, the potential game-winning goal was wiped away by an offsides call.
In the overtime periods, neither team could mount a serious threat with both Penn State and Akron recording just three shots each.
The Nittany Lions will wrap up a four-game home stand on Sun., Oct. 8 when they battle Buffalo (8-3-1, 2-0-0 Mid-American Conference) in a matinee match-up at Jeffrey Field set for 3:00 p.m. Penn State has met the Bulls just once in program history, a season-opening 1-0 Nittany Lion victory at Jeffrey Field in 1993. Buffalo is coming off a 2-1 come-from-behind win over conference foe Bowling Green earned tonight.