The UA Men's Soccer Insider

Akron Completes Sweep of Big Ten

EAST LANSING, MI - October 31, 2012 - The No. 2 University of Akron men's soccer team pushed its unbeaten streak to 12 matches and its win streak to 11 with a 1-0 victory against Michigan State Wednesday afternoon at DeMartin Stadium.

Robbie Derschang netted the match's lone goal early in the second half and goalkeeper David Meves made a couple of clutch saves in the closing minutes as the Zips (14-1-2) completed a season sweep of the Big Ten Conference for the third time in four seasons, improving to 5-0 versus the leauge in 2012 and 18-2-1 since 2009.

Akron, which leads the nation in shutout percentage, has now shut out 11 of its last 12 opponents and registered 13 clean sheets in total this fall. Furthermore, UA has out-scored its last 11 foes by a count of 29-1.

After the teams played to a scoreless tie at the break, Derschang put the Zips up for good in the 48th minute. The junior earned a corner kick with a long run and then flicked home a service by Scott Caldwell from the near post. Derschang's header deflected briefly off a Michigan State defender and into the back of the net.

As time wound down, the Spartans (8-8-1) threw numbers forward and created some tense moments but Meves and the Zips were up to the challenge.

Michigan State's best opportunity to find the equalizer came in the 88th minute following a corner kick. But Meves pushed Kevin Cope's header off the cross bar and took Ryan Keener's rebound in the chest to preserve the victory.

For the match, Akron doubled up Michigan State in shots, 14-7, and posted a 5-3 edge on goal. UA also earned five corner kicks to MSU's two.

The Zips dominated play in the first half, posting an 8-2 advantage in shots and owned all four shots on goal, but couldn't capitalize.

UA's best chance to score in the first half came in the 39th minute when Aodhan Quinn sprung Reinaldo Brenes with a through ball from midfield. Brenes gained possession and fired a shot headed for the far post but MSU keeper Zach Bennett, who finished with four saves, threw up a hand up to punch the ball out of play.

Dillon Serna's ensuing corner kick found Brenes in the box but Bennett was there once again to scoop up the header.

Akron will return to FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field for the final match of the regular season Saturday night when it hosts Western Michigan on Senior Night. The Zips and Broncos will kick off at 7:30 p.m. (ET) after a special tribute to UA's four seniors: Chad Barson, Caldwell, Meves and Thomas Schmitt.

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Another MAC Title for Akron Men

ONEONTA, NY - October 27, 2012 - The No. 2 University of Akron men's soccer team cruised to a 4-0 win over Hartwick Saturday at Elmore Field to clinch the program's eighth consecutive Mid-American Conference regular season championship.

As a result, the Zips (13-1-2, 6-0-0 MAC) earned the right to host the MAC Tournament as the No. 1 seed from Nov. 9-11 at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

Akron, which scored a pair of goals in each half, controlled the match from start to finish Saturday, out-shooting the Hawks 18-3 overall and 12-0 on frame. With the result, the Zips extended their unbeaten streak to 11 matches and pushed their win streak to 10. It was also UA's 12 shutout in 16 contests this seaons.

Just 105 seconds after the opening whistle, junior Eric Stevenson provided UA all the scoring it would need by taking a cross from Robbie Derschang, who was making his first start since Oct. 10, and slotting Hartwick goalkeeper Tom Buckner from 20 yards out. It was the sixth goal and third game-winning strike of the season for Stevenson.

The Zips made it 2-0 with set piece kick goal in the 31st minute. After DeAndre Yedlin was taken down on the right side of the field, Dillon Serna whipped in a service that found the head of Chad Barson. The senior made the most of his opportunity by flicking it home from close range for his second goal of the season.

Akron used another restart opportunity to find the net early in the second half. A well-struck service on a corner kick by Serna connected with Reinaldo Brenes near the back post. Brenes smashed it off the cross bar and into the net to continue his hot streak in the 51st minute. Brenes, who leads the team with 10 goals on the season, has now found the back of the net in each of his last three matches and scored at least one goal in seven of his last eight.

Alfred Koroma capped the scoring in the 77th minute with his third goal of the fall. With the defeat, Hartwick fell to 4-9-2 overall and 1-4-0 in MAC play.

Akron will play its final road contest of the regular season next Wednesday when it travels to East Lansing to take on Michigan State. The Zips and Spartans will kick off at 3 p.m (ET) at DeMartin Stadium.

Akron Men's Soccer Crowns New Shutouts Leader

COLUMBUS, OH - October 23, 2012 - Zips senior David Meves became the school's all-time shutouts leader as the No. 2 University of Akron men's soccer team picked up its ninth-straight win with a 1-0 decision at Ohio State Tuesday night.

With the 49th clean sheet of his career, Meves surpassed Evan Bush (2005-08) for the all-time standard at Akron. Moreover, the native of Arlington Heights, Ill., earned every bit of it Tuesday – recording six saves, including three of the spectacular variety.

Thanks to Meves' performance, a goal by Reinaldo Brenes in the 52nd minute proved to be all the scoring the Zips (12-1-2) would need. The junior finished a rebounded shot by Wil Trapp to net his team-leading fourth game-winner of the year and ninth goal overall – all coming in the last seven matches.

But the night belonged to Meves, who matched a season high with his six stops.

Shortly after Akron jumped out to its lead, Ohio State's Chris Gomez and Chris Hegngi spearheaded a dangerous sequence for the Buckeyes but Meves was up to the task. Meves punched out the first shot by Gomez then lunched back and made a stop on Hegngi's rebound.

Then in the 66th minute, OSU's Austin McAnena found space and lofted a shot across the goal headed for the upper left 90 but Meves leaped up to push it over the crossbar. On the ensuing corner kick, Gomez sneaked a liner past Meves but Scott Caldwell was there to clear it off the line and preserve the Zips' lead.

Akron, which out-shot Ohio State 18-14 for the match, had the ball for the majority of play and missed opportunities of its own, including a pair of close-ranged shots by Eric Stevenson and Caldwell that were stopped by Buckeyes' goalkeeper Alex Wimmer, who finished with nine saves on the night. UA was a bit unlucky as well in the first half when Brenes flicked a header off the right post.

Nonetheless, the Zips, who entered play with the top shutout percentage in the nation, extended their unbeaten streak to 10 matches and earned their 11th shutout of the year.

Despite a 10-4 Akron advantage in shots, the Zips and Buckeyes were scoreless at halftime. UA had a number of quality chances just before the break but couldn't cash in.

Caldwell may have had the best opportunity of the first 45 minutes when he received a cross from the left side of the field and one-timed it right into the chest of Wimmer. Just minutes earlier, a series of passes near midfield left Stevenson with the ball and space in front of the net but his shot went wide right.

With the defeat, Ohio State fell to 6-9-1 on the year.

Akron, which improved to 4-0 against Big Ten schools this season, will jump back into Mid-American Conference play Saturday when it travels to Hartwick for a 3 p.m., kick off.

Akron Dispatches WVU in MAC Matchup

AKRON, OH - October 20, 2012 - The No. 3 University of Akron men's soccer team earned a 2-1 victory over West Virginia Saturday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field in a key clash between the top two teams in the Mid-American Conference.

With the win, the Zips (11-1-2, 5-0-0 MAC) earned a big leg up on the Mountaineers (8-4-2, 3-1-1 MAC) in the chase for the league's regular-season championship and the right to host the conference tournament. As a result, UA will have the opportunity to clinch its eighth consecutive regular-season title with a win or tie in either of its last two league matches at Hartwick (Oct. 27) or against Western Michigan (Nov. 3).

Akron scored single goals in each half – the first from Reinaldo Brenes in the fifth minute and the second from Scott Caldwell in the 50th minute – to push its win streak to eight matches and unbeaten streak to nine.

WVU became the first opponent to score a goal at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field in seven home matches this season in the 52nd minute when Zips goalkeeper David Meves lost his footing and couldn't make a play on a shot by Majed Osman from the top of the box. Ironically, it was the only shot allowed by UA in the second half.

It was also the first goal allowed by the Zips in their last nine matches, snapping a string of 713 consecutive scoreless minutes.

Nonetheless, Akron earned the result despite intermittent rain, which was heavy at times, and a slippery field. For the match, Akron out-shot West Virginia 8-6 overall and 5-2 on goal.

UA wasted little time establishing control with the match's first goal at the 4:09 mark. Bryan Gallego recorded the first assist of his career by sending a long ball from beyond midfield to Brenes, who took the pass in stride on the left flank and chipped the ball over WVU goalkeeper Pat Eavenson, who had come off his line.

It was the eighth goal of the season for Brenes, who has done all his scoring in the Zips' past five matches.

Alfred Koroma opened a flurry of activity with a long run early in the second half. After shaking his mark, the true freshman left the ball for Aodhan Quinn, who fired a low liner past Eavenson toward the right corner of the net from 12 yards out.

Quinn's shot was cleared off the line by a WVU defender but Serna gained possession on the left side of the field before crossing it to Caldwell, who slotted the keeper from straight on to give the Zips a 2-0 lead at the 49:35 mark. It was also the eighth goal of the season for Caldwell, who netted his second game-winner on the year.

WVU cut the lead in half at 51:30 but that's as close as it would get.

Akron will begin its final road trip of the regular season next week, starting with a match at Ohio State Tuesday at 8 p.m. (ET). The contest will be broadcast locally and on-line by Fox Sports 1350 AM (WARF) as well as televised nationally by the Big Ten Network.

Akron Picks Embick to Replace Porter

AKRON, OH - October 17, 2012 - Jared Embick, the current associate head coach and recruiting coordinator of The University of Akron men's soccer program, will become the school's seventh head men's soccer coach at the end of the season, President Dr. Luis M. Proenza and Director of Athletics Tom Wistrcill announced Wednesday.

Embick, the 2010 National Assistant Coach of the Year, will replace current coach Caleb Porter, who announced last August his intention to become the head coach of Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers, on December 15, 2012. Embick has agreed in principle to a three-year contract, pending approval by the University's Board of Trustees.

Photo Credit: The University of Akron"Our soccer program has achieved national prominence and continues to generate positive and exciting momentum," Proenza said. "Jared Embick has been an integral part of our growth and stellar performance. His appointment as head coach was only natural and means that the team won't miss a beat in its continued excellence."

Since joining the staff in 2007, Embick has been a key component of the Zips' dominant run in college soccer, culminating with the school's first team national championship in any sport in 2010.

Under Embick's direction, Akron has secured some of the best prospects in the country – and around the world – with top-five recruiting classes in each of the past five seasons, highlighted by the No. 1 class in 2009 and No. 2 classes in 2010 and 2011.

More importantly, UA's recruits have flourished in the Zips' system, which features a style of play that is attractive and attack-oriented, yet effective on both sides of the ball. In total, Embick recruited or helped develop 14 players who have gone on to play professionally either in MLS or overseas since 2007.

The success of this formula was no more evident than at the 2011 MLS SuperDraft where seven Zips had their names called, including five with the first eight selections overall, to set a pair of MLS records.

"We have been well aware of Jared's qualities as a coach and after searching the country, we determined that he is the best fit for our program moving forward," Wistrcill said. "As our program's associate head coach, he has been a fundamental part of our success and a reason why we have been able to attract some of the best soccer players in the world. Furthermore, he is a firm believer in the style of play that has not only made The University of Akron unique around the country, but also one that has proven to win championships."

During Embick's time at Akron, the Zips have posted the highest winning percentage in the nation with an overall record of 111-14-17 (.842), including a 36-0-1 (.986) mark in Mid-American Conference play, while securing four conference tournament titles, five trips to the NCAA Tournament and two appearances in an NCAA final.

"First and foremost, I would like to thank Dr. Proenza, Tom Wistrcill, Mary Lu Gribschaw, and the administration for giving me this tremendous opportunity," Embick said. "I am honored to be the next head coach of The University of Akron men's soccer program and look forward to continuing the tradition and success of Akron Soccer."

"For the last six years, I have been fortunate to work with and learn from Caleb Porter, one of the best coaches in the history of college soccer. I will continue to use those experiences to keep Akron at the pinnacle of college soccer. That being said, right now I am only focused on this season and helping the team reach our goal of winning a second national championship."

Prior to joining the Zips, Embick spent four seasons (2003-06) as the head men's soccer coach at Missouri Baptist University where he led the Spartans to a record of 47-21-8 and the program's first NAIA regional tournament berth in 2003. In all, Embick spent six seasons at MBU, including two seasons as a graduate assistant (2000-01) and one season as an assistant coach (2002).

During his time at Missouri Baptist, Embick also served as assistant coach for River Cities FC of the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) whom he helped lead to a 13-2-1 record in its inaugural season and an appearance in the WPSL national final.

"Jared has been an invaluable member of my staff since I hired him as my right-hand man six years ago," Porter said. "Clearly, during this time he has played a major role in shaping the Akron Soccer program into what it is today – the nation's premier program in college soccer. What makes Akron soccer unique is the philosophy that we both share and I'm pleased to know that this brand will continue under Jared's guidance.

"Ultimately, this philosophy is the reason why, for the past seven years, the program has won so many games, developed numerous professional players, secured the nation's top recruits, increased fan attendance and competed for national championships year in and year out. The future of the Akron Soccer Program is in good hands with Jared at the helm and I couldn't be happier with this decision."

A 2000 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan, Embick, 34, was named an All-American by the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) in 1998 and 1999 as a player. He was also an NAIA honorable mention All-America honoree in 1999 and was twice named to the All-Mid-Central Conference squad.

Please visit our blog for more analysis on the Embick hiring.

Quinn Seals the Win for Akron

AKRON, OH - October 16, 2012 - The No. 3 University of Akron men's soccer team grinded out a 1-0 win over Michigan Tuesday evening in front of 3,289 fans at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

A first-half goal by Aodhan Quinn proved to be the difference on a night that saw the Zips (10-1-2) earn their eighth consecutive shutout and push their win streak to seven. It was also the 48th shutout of senior goalkeeper David Meves' career, which ties him with Evan Bush (2005-08) for first place on the school's career list.

UA pressured the Wolverines' goal all night – out-shooting Michigan, 24-8 overall and 10-2 on frame, yet were forced to settle for the single tally.

The Zips had multiple chances to score throughout the contest but struggled to finish in the final third. To compound matters, U-M netminder Adam Grinwis was on his game from the start, recording eight saves, and a Michigan defender cleared a near shot from Reinaldo Brenes off the line early in the first half to prevent the Zips from adding on to their lead.

Michigan remained aggressive in the second half despite seeing their senior Brian Klemczak sent off in the 44th minute for taking Brenes down on a breakaway. Nonetheless, the Zips held U-M to just one shot in the second half and two shots on goal for the match.

Akron scored the only goal it would need in the game's 14th minute.

DeAndre Yedlin initiated the play with a run down the right side of the field. After getting past his mark, the sophomore found a seam and crossed the ball to Quinn on the left flank. Quinn made the most of his opportunity by tucking the ball off the keeper and inside the far post for his third goal of the season. It was Yedlin's team-leading sixth helper this fall.

With the loss, U-M fell to 4-7-1 on the year.

The Zips will continue their brief two-game homestand Saturday night when new Mid-American Conference member West Virginia comes to FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field for a 7:30 p.m. (ET) kick off.

Akron Men Win Again

DEKALB, IL - October 13, 2012 - The No. 3 University of Akron men's soccer team gained sole possession of first place in the Mid-American Conference with a 2-0 victory versus Northern Illinois on a damp and windy Saturday afternoon at NIU Soccer Complex.

In doing so, the Zips (9-1-2, 4-0-0 MAC) extended their win streak to six matches and pushed their run of consecutive shutouts to seven while out-shooting the defending MAC Tournament Champion Huskies, 18-8. UA is now unbeaten in its last 42 conference matches (39-0-3), which is tied with Clemson (1972-80) for the second-longest run in NCAA history. Furman, which owns the all-time standard, went unbeaten in 46 straight league contests from 1999-2003.

Akron used bookend goals to finish off the Huskies, who fell to 3-7-2 overall and 2-1-0 in conference play. Freshman Phil Fives scored his first career goal shortly after the opening whistle and Reinaldo Brenes stayed white hot with his seventh goal in four matches in the 85th minute.

NIU did its part to chop up play with 19 fouls and six yellow cards – including three in a 15-second span in the first half. Rocco Taglia was sent off in the 57th minute after being shown his second caution.

The Zips wasted little time taking control, scoring the game's first goal in just the second minute following an Akron corner kick.

After a service by Aodhan Quinn, Scott Caldwell briefly gained possession before flicking the ball to Dillon Serna amidst a scrum in the box. Serna quickly crossed it to Fives on the near left flank where the freshman buried his shot from six yards out to give UA an early lead at the 1:31 mark.

It was Akron's quickest goal of the year and spearheaded a relentless attack, which saw the Zips earn five shots and as many corner kicks in the first eight minutes of the contest. It was a dominant opening period in all for UA, which out-shot Northern Illinois 14-2 but couldn't add on to its lead.

The Huskies nearly made the Zips pay in the 55th when Jayson Leseth fired a liner through a block of defenders but UA goalkeeper David Meves threw a glove up at the last second to punch it away. Northern Illinois had a couple more chances as it pushed for the equalizer but Meves, who finished with five saves, was there to make the stop each time.

For his efforts, Meves earned the 47th shutout of his four-year career and now trails the school's all-time leader, Evan Bush (2005-08), by just one in that category.

To cap off the scoring, DeAndre Yedlin sprung Brenes with a through ball from midfield at the 84:39 mark. Brenes, who has found the back of the net at least once in Akron's last four matches, finished from the top of the box to put the game away.

The Zips will next return home for another two-game homestand starting next week. Akron will host Michigan Tuesday before welcoming the MAC's newest member West Virginia Saturday for a key conference clash. Both matches will start at 7:30 p.m. (ET) at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

Akron Rolls Past Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - October 10, 2012 - The No. 3 University of Akron men's soccer team extended a number of impressive streaks Wednesday night in a 2-0 victory against Penn State at Jeffrey Field Wednesday night.

It was the fifth straight win for the Zips, who improved to 8-1-2 overall, and their sixth straight shutout. UA also pushed their run of consecutive shutouts to six matches and has not allowed a goal in its last 481:30 of play.

Akron took control early with a pair of first-half goals from Reinaldo Brenes and Scott Caldwell and held on for the win. With the defeat, PSU fell to 6-4-2 on the year.

The Zips were on the attack from the start of the match and recorded a number of quality chances before breaking through.

The first came in the 16th minute when Brenes banged a shot off the far post from the left flank. Dillon Serna was there with the follow up but PSU keeper Emmanuel Martin dove to his left to punch the ball clear.

In the 23rd minute, a long ball by Robbie Derschang found Serna, who cut through the PSU backline for a breakaway opportunity but the freshman's shot sailed wide of the net.

Akron's persistence paid off in the match's 28th minute when a great through ball from Eric Stevenson left Brenes with space in front of the goal. The junior forward made the most of the opportunity by chipping a shot over the keeper for his sixth goal in his last three matches.

Brenes nearly found the net again just minutes later when Serna slipped him the ball near the top of the box. Brenes followed with a lob shot that Martin pushed just over the cross bar.

Penn State had its best chance - and its lone quality opportunity - of the first half in the 39th minute on a counter attack following an Akron corner kick. A series of passes left Hasani Sinclair with room on the right flank but his shot sailed wide of the far post.

Akron capitalized with less than four minutes left in the first half when Stevenson was brought down in the box to earn the Zips a penalty kick. Caldwell finished to give the Zips a 2-0 lead on his team-leading seventh goal of the fall.

The Zips out-shot the Nittany Lions 12-10 overall and 5-3 on goal. UA also earned seven corner kicks to PSU's one.

Akron will put its 41-match Mid-American Conference unbeaten streak on the line this weekend when it travels to Northern Illinois. The Zips and Huskies will kick off at 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday at NIU Soccer Complex.

Zips Roll Over FAU

AKRON, OH - October 5, 2012 - The No. 7 University of Akron men's soccer team rolled to its fourth consecutive win and fifth straight shutout Friday night in a convincing 5-0 victory over Florida Atlantic at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.

While out-shooting the Owls 23-5, the Zips (7-1-2, 3-0-0 Mid-American Conference), who have not allowed a goal in their last 391 minutes of play, extended their league unbeaten streak to 41 matches (38-0-3), which represents the longest active streak in the nation and the third-longest run in NCAA history.

In all, it was the seventh shutout in 10 matches for UA, which did not allow a shot on goal for the second game in a row. With the loss, Florida Atlantic fell to 1-8-1 overall and 0-3-0 in the MAC.

Leading the attack for the Zips were juniors Reinaldo Brenes and Eric Stevenson, who each contributed two goals and an assist. True freshman Dillon Serna also found the net and added an assist to round out the scoring.

Brenes, who recorded the first hat trick of his career last weekend against Buffalo, picked up where he left off just nine minutes into the match when he headed home a cross from DeAndre Yedlin to give Akron a 1-0 lead.

Stevenson then followed with his first of two first-half goals in the 20th minute. Scott Caldwell initiated the play from midfield with a through ball that found Stevenson, who created space with a short run and slotted the FAU keeper from the top of the box. 

Caldwell and Stevenson connected again for Zips' third goal, coming in the 27th minute. In a similar play, Caldwell slipped the ball Stevenson, who made the turn and launched a low liner across the goal to the far corner of the net.

The Zips added two more goals, both of the spectacular variety, in the second half.

The first came in the 56th minute when Brenes played a ball to Serna on the right side of the field. Serna made a quick move to his right to shake his man, then cut to the left before firing a rocket into the back of the net from 18 yards out.

The Zips' fifth and final goal of the night may have been their most impressive. A combination of quick passes from Serna to Stevenson left Brenes with a clear path to the goal in the 61st minute. With the keeper coming off his line, the Coasta Rican chipped the ball into the net for his fifth goal in Akron's last two matches.

After playing their last two games at home, the Zips will jump on the road for a pair of contests at Penn State next Wednesday and at Northern Illinois next Saturday.

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