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Utah Valley Athletics

'Clyde Field magic' returns as No. 16 UVU upsets 13th-ranked Akron in season opener

By Kyle McDonald, Contributor  |  Posted Aug 26th, 2017 @ 12:12am


OREM — Over 4,000 fans packed into Clyde Field, including 1,200 member of the UVU student section called "The Den" to watch the UVU men's soccer team take on 13th-ranked Akron.

And for the second straight year, UVU knocked off a ranked opponent to begin its season.

Giovanny Vazquez headed the ball into the back of the net off a beautiful corner kick from Connor Salmon in the 54th minute and UVU held on for the 1-0 victory.

It is the fourth-straight season that UVU has opened with a win. In its inaugural year in 2014, UVU defeated UMASS, 5-1 in Orem. In 2015, UVU defeated UMASS again in the season opener and in 2016, the Wolverines beat 20th-ranked Washington, 2-1, while playing a man down.

"It's about Utah Valley," UVU head coach Greg Maas said. "It's about this environment. I mean, we had over 4,000 people in attendance today. Our marketing department and all the administration throughout the university was phenomenal in promoting this game."

"It was just up to us to get out and and enjoy the opportunity to play a tremendous side in Akron. We got a goal and we dug in deep and today's result was something special."

Neither team was able to generate much offense in a defensive-filled first half. Freshman Zach Maas had a chance in the 40th minute to score the first goal of his UVU career but Akron goalkeeper Ben Lundt made a diving save.

In the 45th minute, Vazquez had a chance to put one in the back of the net but his header went just high.

Following a botched kick attempt by Lundt in the 54th minute, Salmon and Vazquez connected on the corner kick to put the Wolverines up, 1-0.

From there, UVU and goalkeeper Elliott Rubio held on and preserved the shutout.

"It sets the tone for the rest of the season," Vazquez said. "Just getting a win at home in the first game, behind our crowd, it's good."

Four yellow cards were handed out on the night and 29 fouls were called. And despite being outshot 8-6, UVU was able to win its fourth straight season-opener and fourth straight home-opener.

What makes the win even more impressive is that UVU was playing with out Preseason All-American and All-WAC selection Paul Hoffmeister.

Hoffmeister led UVU in goals scored in 2016 with nine and led the team in points with 21. Sources say he is injured but no details were given.

UVU will be back on the pitch on Friday, Sept 1 at Clyde Field when they host NCAA College Cup qualifier Cal State Northridge. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. MT.

The match against CSUN is the second in a stretch of four consecutive games against teams that made the 2016 NCAA College Cup. UVU will travel to California to take on Cal State Fullerton and San Diego State on September 8 and 11.

Kyle McDonald is sports fan who loves the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter at @kylesportsbias

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