The UA Men's Soccer Insider

Zips Dance into Sweet Sixteen

AKRON, OH - November 18, 2012 - Eric Stevenson and Tommy Schmitt each scored a goal to lead The University of Akron to a 2-1 win over Michigan. The victory propelled Akron into the third round of the NCAA Tournament.   

Akron and Michigan traded chances through much of the first half with Scott Caldwell and Stevenson pacing the Zips’ attack.  Stevenson struck first with a blast in the 43rd minute, taking a shot from the top of the box.  It was his seventh of the season. 

Photo Credit: Gary L. Moody Sr./ISNSoccer.comAkron carried that same 1-0 lead into halftime. The second half began with a flurry of activity from the home side. 

“We did some of the best stuff in that first part of the second half that I have ever seen out of an Akron team that I’ve had,” Akron head coach Caleb Porter stated. 

Fourteen minutes into the second half, Schmitt put the Zips up 2-0 thanks to a clever chip from 15 yards out. 

But the Wolverines wouldn’t go away easily despite going down to 10 men in the 62nd minute.  The red card to UM’s Colin McAtee was followed by a score from teammate James Murphy mere seconds later.

Michigan and Akron fought back and forth for the remainder of the match with no change in the score. The entire match would be defined by superb goalkeeping and physical play from both sides. 

Michigan’s Adam Grinwis finished the match with 9 saves. His performance drew rave reviews from Porter, who called it “one of the best performances I have ever seen out of a goalkeeper in my 13 years in college.”

Akron’s David Meves registered 4 of his own, including a flying stop with just minutes remaining.  The play by Meves sealed the win for Akron in what could be characterized as a tense match. 

Four yellow cards were handed out to go along with 23 fouls.  Akron finished tops in shots (25 to 12) and corner kicks (5 to 4).    

Akron now faces #12 seeded Creighton at home on November 25 with a 4:30 p.m. kickoff.

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Subside Sports Man of the Match: GK Adam Grinwis, Michigan

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The Road to Hoover Begins

Photo Credit: Gary L. Moody Sr./ISNSoccer.comAKRON, OH - November 12, 2012 - Amidst one of the greatest seasons in program history, the No. 1 nationally-ranked University of Akron men's soccer team was awared a No. 5 seed for the 2012 NCAA Tournament by the NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Committee Monday.

As a top-eight seed, the Zips (17-1-2) earned a first-round bye and the right to host at least two NCAA Tournament games. UA, the 2012 Mid-American Conference regular-season and tournament champions, will face the winner of Thursday's Michigan (10-9-1)/Niagara (13-1-4) first-round match-up at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (ET).

It is the seventh time the Zips, who will be looking to return to the College Cup for the third time in four seasons, have been seeded and the sixth consecutive year they have advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Akron was the No. 3 seed in 2010, No. 1 seed in 2009, No. 5 in 2008, No. 14 in 2007, No. 9 in 2005 and No. 15 in 2003. The Zips captured the school's first team national championship in any sport in 2010 and was the NCAA runner-up in 2009. UA has advanced to the Round of 16 in each of the last four seasons.

When Akron takes the field Sunday, it will mark the school's 27th appearance in the NCAA postseason all-time.

Also seeded in the Zips' region are No. 4 Connecticut (15-3-1), No. 12 Creighton (15-3-2) and No. 13 New Mexico (16-3-1). The remaining top-four seeds went to No. 1 Notre Dame (16-3-1), No. 2 Maryland (17-1-2) and No. 3 Georgetown (17-3-1). The 2012 College Cup will be played at Regions Field in Hoover, Ala., on Dec. 7 and 9.

Walk-on Turned Hero for Akron

Photo Credit: Gary L. Moody Sr./ISNSoccer.comAKRON, OHNovember 11, 2012 – It’s no surprise that the #1 nationally-ranked University of Akron men’s soccer team made it to the MAC Tournament Championship match. But it was a surprise when a sophomore walk-on scored the game-winner so that Akron could bring home the hardware.

The Zips finished the evening with a 2-0 victory over the Northern Illinois Huskies thanks to second half goals from Saad Abdul-Salaam and Aodhan Quinn.      

Abdul-Salaam, a graduate of Gahanna Lincoln HS, scored in the 73rd minute as he slotted a shot past NIU keeper Jordan Godsey.  Scott Caldwell and Eric Stevenson each registered an assist on the goal.

Just two minutes later in the 75th, Quinn put the game out of reach thanks to a strike from 15 yards out. Caldwell would get his second assist of the night on the score. 

The game-winner was Abdul-Salaam’s first career collegiate goal.  Fellow Gahanna Lincoln teammate Wil Trapp claimed his first career goal against Bowling Green on Friday. The pair were part of the Gahanna’s state championship team in 2009.     

“It’s a joy actually to score my first one in such a big game,” Abdul-Salaam commented. “They played me a good ball; I could do nothing but finish it.”

Walk-ons scoring goals are a rarity at Akron, but Abdul-Salaam is a special player.  He could easily be labeled a sleeper this season, coming out of literally nowhere to find himself among the regulars. Akron head coach Caleb Porter called him “a gamer,” a casual player in training that becomes a monster come game time.   

The match was dominated by Akron on the stat sheet as they held an advantage on shots (23 to 4) and  corner kicks (9 to 2). But the first half was a lot of back and forth as neither team could put anything on the scoreboard.  A big reason was the stellar performance of Godsey, who finished the match with 9 saves, including a flying snag that was highlight reel worthy early in the match.

The second half started off hot for Northern Illinois as Gabe Christianson sent a shot off the post.  It was the last legitimate opportunity for the Huskies as Akron’s dominance soon took over the game.       

The win gave the Zips a 47-game unbeaten streak in conference play, a new NCAA record once held by Furman.  It was also Akron’s 9th conference tournament championship to go with their eighth consecutive conference regular season championship.

“This year we have that extra gear,” Porter stated. “We have the right mentality where players step up. When we need more, they bring it. It leaves me with a very good feeling of confidence going into the NCAA Tournament.”

Akron defeated BGSU 2-0 to advance to the tournament final, while NIU snuck past West Virginia 1-0 also on Friday.  

The Zips now anxiously await the results of the NCAA Selection Show to find out who their next opponent will be for the NCAA Tournament. 

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Subside Sports Man of the Match: FW Saad Abdul-Salaam, The University of Akron

Akron Opens MAC Tourney with Dominance

AKRON, OH - November 9, 2012 - The No. 1 University of Akron men's soccer team earned a 2-0 victory over fourth-seeded Bowling Green in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament Friday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

With the victory, the Zips (15-1-2) will play for the MAC Tournament championship for the eighth time in the last nine seasons when they meet Northern Illinois, which defeated West Virginia 1-0 in the first semifinal of the day, in the final Sunday at 4:30 p.m., on their home field.

The win also extended UA's conference unbeaten streak to 46 matches, which ties Furman (1999-2003) for the longest such streak in NCAA history. Akron has now gone 43-0-3 against MAC schools – including postseason play – since 2007.

After falling short in last year's MAC Tournament semifinals, the Zips made sure history would not repeat itself Friday night as they out-shot the Falcons 33-2 overall, including a 9-1 margin on-goal, and earned 13 corner kicks to BGSU's none.

Akron, which out-shot BG 15-0 in the first half alone, drew first blood late in the first half, thanks to a highlight-reel worthy strike by sophomore Wil Trapp.

With a strong run, Dillon Serna earned an Akron free kick near the left sideline and Scott Caldwell played the ensuing free kick back to Trapp near the middle of the field. Trapp set himself up with a great touch and fired a rocket from beyond 30 yards that whistled through the box, past the diving BGSU keeper and into the lower right-hand corner of the net in the 40th minute. It was Trapp's first goal of his Zips' career.

In a flash, UA added to its lead with it's second goal coming just one minute and 29 seconds later. Saad Abdul-Salaam initiated the action with a cross to Caldwell, who slipped the ball to Thomas Schmitt on the right flank. Schmitt created space and buried the shot for his second goal of the season at the 41:19 mark.

That was all the offense the Zips would need as they limited the Falcons to just two shots for the match. In doing so, UA posted its 15th shutout of the season, which is tied for the second-highest single-season total in school history.

Both BGSU shots came from distance in the second half and neither threatened the goal.

Akron Wins on Senior Night

AKRON, OH - November 2, 2012 - A late goal by Scott Caldwell lifted The No. 2 University of Akron men's soccer team to a 1-0 victory over Western Michigan in the final match of the regular season Saturday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

It was a fitting Senior Night finish for the team captain, who one-timed a rebounded shot by Alfred Koroma past the keeper from 10 yards out to break the scoreless tie in the 86th minute. It was also a fair result for the Zips (15-1-2, 7-0-0 Mid-American Conference) who out-shot the Broncos 23-2 overall – including 16-0 in the second half – and 9-0 on frame.

As the No. 1 seed, Akron, which clinched its eighth-consecutive MAC regular season championship last weekend, will host No. 4 seed Bowling Green (8-8-3, 3-3-1 MAC) in the second semifinal match Friday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field, starting at 7:30 p.m.

No. 2 seed Northern Illinois (6-9-3, 4-2-1 MAC) will face No. 3 West Virginia (9-5-2, 4-2-1) in the opener Friday at 4 p.m. The MAC Championship will be played on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 4:30 p.m.

Despite the lopsided shot advantage, the Zips and Broncos (11-6-2, 3-3-1) were scoreless late into the match due in part to a deep and organized WMU defense. But Akron, which earned 10 corner kicks to Western Michigan's two, was persistent with its attack and broke through late.

Robbie Derschang initiated the scoring sequence with a run down the left side of the field before crossing it to Koroma, who was waiting on the near left flank. The true freshman made a quick turn and fired from close range but Western Michigan goalkeeper Sean Lewis, who finished the night with eight saves, was there to punch it out.

Caldwell saw his chance and rushed in to redirect the ball past the keeper for the seventh game-winning goal of his career and his third of the season. He is currently second on the team with nine goals overall, which represents a career high.

With the win, the Zips swept the MAC regular season for the fifth consecutive year and are 31-0 versus the league in conference play since 2008. Akron also extended its unbeaten streak to 13 matches and its winning streak to 12.

While limiting WMU to just a pair of first-half shot attempts, UA notched its 14th shutout of the season, which is tied for the third-highest total in school history. The Zips have allowed just one goal in their last 1,181:30 of play, dating back to Sept. 14.

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