Bryan Akongo scores hat-trick, gives men’s soccer a confidence-boosting win over VMI

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Photo by Nathan Breisinger

Bryan Akongo scored a hat trick in men’s soccer’s win over VMI.

By Owen Krepps, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP– Robert Morris men’s soccer (4-9, 3-4 Horizon) defeated the Virginia Military Institute Keydets (1-15, 0-5 SOCON) by a score of 4-1 today to finish off their non-conference schedule. Bryan Akongo celebrated his 21st birthday week by scoring his first career NCAA hat-trick and the first RMU men’s soccer hat trick since Neco Brett on August 30, 2015.

The game was also a Go4theGoal Pediatric Fundraiser with the team raising both money and awareness for child pediatric cancers. RMU wore special gold laces for the event.

RMU entered this game against a struggling program in VMI looking to get into the win column after a dramatic loss to Cleveland State last week. RMU is still in the hunt for the Horizon League playoffs as they sit in eighth place and the top six teams make it in.

“After the Cleveland, game it was a hard loss to take and everyone was thinking about it for a couple of days,” Akongo said. “To come in and get a win and get that feeling of winning is a good feeling to have before a big game against Detroit this weekend.”

Akongo was all over the pitch for the Colonials and factored in on every goal for all teams. Robert Morris struck first with Akongo heading home a pass from Nathaniel David off a free-kick and making the game 1-0.

VMI evened the score at 31:27 however off of a bad penalty from Akongo in the RMU box. This gave Nathan Lam a free-kick in prime scoring position and Lam capitalized putting the ball past Grant Glorioso.

“I think their first goal woke us up. I feel like we could have played a lot better as a team,” Akongo said of the first Keydets goal. “Once they scored, we realized that we needed to pump it up a little bit more and I think coming into the second half we were looking to execute all the plays.”

Head coach Jason O’Keefe noted the presence of the team today.

“We knew they weren’t going to just lay down and give us anything. The goal was to move the ball a little bit better. For us being so young, every game is a learning experience so we embrace them all and we learn from all of them.”

Robert Morris came out flying in the second half and did not look back, scoring three unanswered goals. Gal Ben Dayan finally scored his first of the afternoon after missing on two bicycle-kick attempts earlier.

Akongo then scored two straight to complete the hat trick with one goal coming off of a great individual effort rush and the other being set up by Evan LaMarca. Like any good leader, Akongo credited his teammates for his success.

“As much as I scored the goals, it was other players helping me to get the goals in the first place.”

Up next, RMU embarks to Michigan for perhaps their biggest matchup of the season as they take on the Detroit Mercy Titans (4-4-4, 3-2-2) Saturday night at 7:00 pm. The matchup will have a major impact on the team’s chances of making the Horizon League playoffs.