Junior Attackman Christian Stowe netted the game winning goal just :15 seconds into the first overtime to give the Akron Zips an 8-7 victory over their Northeastern Ohio rival, Kent State.
Stowe took a pass from Junior Captain Matt Neff, dodged to his left and ripped a blistering under hand shot passed Kent State net-minder Nayan Jaitly.
Despite the quick fireworks in OT, defense was the name of the game for much of regulation as both teams struggled to get things moving offensively. After Akron managed to strike first and take a slim 2-1 edge after 1 quarter, the Golden Flashes from Kent State rallied to net 3 goals in the 2nd to grab a 4-2 lead at the half.
Junior Goalie, Joe Gironda (9 saves) came up big in the 3rd quarter for Akron as the Kent State offense was held to just 1 goal prior to the final stanza. Meanwhile, Zips Freshman Midfielder, Donovan Fagan (5 goals), notched 2 critical goals as part of a multi goal 3rd quarter that allowed Akron to retake the lead.
Kent State struck first in the 4th before Stowe evened the score again at 6. After the Flashes scored their final goal, Akron’s Cole Guello found the back of the net to notch the score at 7 all.
Junior Midfielder, Tyler Skoloda was outstanding at the face off x for the Zips, winning 90% of his draws, while Joe Gironda had an impressive 12 saves on the day for Akron.
Skoloda spoke about his team’s focus on the season and how it got them through this tough game. “Our main theme for this season as a team was for everybody to do their job. If everybody does the job they are assigned to do, we won’t lose a game. That’s exactly what we did at Sunday’s game. I think that is a defining game for me and just at the right time. Our coach told us before the game that their are certain games that define you both as a player and as a program, and I think both happened for the zips on Sunday.”
We spoke with Akron Freshmen Midfielder Donovan Fagan about the rivalry and the Zips attitude heading into Sunday’s game. “I think all week we were very focused and determined to get that win against our rivals. I’m a rookie so I don’t know too much about the rivalry, but I felt how much everyone wanted that game. I think what got us to win that game was our mindset. We wanted to hit them, every play and prove we were the better team on that field. Overall it was an awesome team victory.”
Kent State’s 7 goals came from 5 different goal scorers, as Joe Wesner and Adam Belica netted 2 goals each. Joe Gabel chipped in with a goal and 2 assists as well. Andrew Rackley and Shane Breckenridge rounded out the scoring for the Golden Flashes.
For Kent State Head Coach Cody Carson, this loss was a bitter pill to swallow knowing his team had several chances to escape with a win. “We got killed in the face-off and ground ball game but if one bounce or one call goes our way it’s a different ball game. We had plenty of opportunities that we missed,” Carson added.
Carson was pleased with the Flashers defensive effort. “We executed well on defense for most of the game outside of a few mismatches and blown coverages. Offensively, we needed to be more aggressive off ball and finish our shots. This loss stings, but my guys are going to use this as fuel to come back in 3 weeks and execute for 4 quarters.”
Kent State will face Cleveland State (1-1) and Bowling Green (2-1) before their rematch with Akron on 4/13. Akron will travel to Eastern Michigan on 3/24 to take on the Eagles (1-2).
Highlights and Images Courtesy of Akron Club.
Fagan’s 2nd goal of the day.
Christian Stowe’s game winner in OT.
Nick Lopez contributed to this article.