AKRON, Ohio – Akron junior midfielder Scott Caldwell slotted an 83rd-minute penalty on Sunday afternoon to provide the fourth-ranked Zips a tight 1-0 victory against the Cal Poly men's soccer program at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Akron (4-0-2), unbeaten in an NCAA-record 42-successive home matches, forced Mustang senior goalkeeper Patrick McLain into just one save during the opening 82 minutes before Zips freshman defender DeAndre Yedlin was brought down in the box. Whistle blown, Caldwell proceeded to bury his attempt from the spot as the Mustangs conceded their first penalty in 23 matches.
"It was a really tight game and I'm proud of how our guys played," said sixth-year Cal Poly head coach Paul Holocher of his side's performance against the defending NCAA Tournament champions. "I thought that the penalty call was very questionable. I believe we were the more dangerous team for many stretches of the game. We frustrated an Akron team that didn't have many solutions for us so they resorted to hitting long balls over the top. We met their challenge successfully."
Mustang senior forward Kyle Montgomery, named to the Akron All-Tournament Team alongside senior center back Patrick Sigler, forced Akron junior goalkeeper David Meves into a 16th-minute save before freshman forward Keegan Smith was turned away in the 34th.
Cal Poly (3-2-2), which produced a season-high 11 corners, enjoyed its best scoring opportunity five-and-a-half minutes before halftime, but sophomore midfielder George Malki banged his one attempt of the afternoon off the Akron crossbar.
"The game was very much there for us to win," Holocher added. "We were one pass and one finish away from winning this game. (The result of this match) tells me we have a good squad with a lot of character."
The Mustangs, who opened tournament play on Friday with a 2-1 defeat of Syracuse, produced a further three attempts during the second half with junior midfielder Chris Gaschen seeing a shot stopped during the 48th minute. Senior right back Cameron Walters then headed wide a minute later for Cal Poly, which was whistled offside five times.
Cal Poly now enjoys a seven-day hiatus before hosting Denver on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 1 p.m.