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Akron Men's Soccer Finishes Spring Season with a Flourish

AKRON, OH - April 27, 2011 -  The University of Akron men's soccer team finished up its spring exhibition schedule on a good note, earning a 2-0 victory over visiting Valparaiso Wednesday night at Cub Cadet Field. 

UA, which scored a goal in each half, controlled the game from start to finish, out-shooting the Crusaders, 11-6 overall and 7-1 on frame. Scott Caldwell converted a penalty kick for the second consecutive contest and newcomer Luke Holmes found the net for the first time this spring late in the game to fuel Akron to the victory.

The Zips wasted little time jumping on Valpo after VU goal keeper Kyle Zobeck crashed into Darren Mattocks as he was attempting to line up a shot in the penalty area following a through ball from Holmes. Like he has done all spring, Caldwell made the Crusaders pay with his third successful PK in as many chances in the game's second minute.

Akron had another scoring opportunity in the 32nd minute when Ben Speas made a run down the left flank and fired a shot that deflected wide off the keeper to set up a the game's first corner kick. Caldwell's ensuing service left Eric Stevenson with a long-range shot from straight away but the defender's blast sailed high.

UA kept the pressure on and finished the half with a 7-2 advantage in shots, including a 4-0 edge on frame. Two chances in particular, near the end of the half were especially dangerous as Mattocks nearly found the Zips' second goal.

In the 43rd minute, the Jamaican striker found himself lined up with the keeper on the left flank and attempted to chip a shot over his head. But Zobeck, who finished with five stops on the night, used a fingertip save to pull the ball in. Then, in the final minute before the break, a pretty sequence of touch passes from Reinaldo Brenes to Caldwell to Mattocks set up another opportunity. Zobeck was up to the task once again however and kicked away Mattock's shot as UA took a 1-0 advantage into the locker room.

The Zips' persistence finally paid off in the 78th minute however when Mattocks and Holmes hooked up for Akron's second goal of the night.

Mattocks initiated the play with a run down the left side of the field and found Holmes, who had tucked into a vacant area eight yards in front of the net. In one motion, the 2010 NAIA National Player of the Year turned and fired a low liner into the back right corner to provide the game's final margin.

The game was played in a steady downpour of rain throughout the second half. These wet conditions contributed to some sloppy play and nearly cost the Zips their shutout in the closing minutes.

On an attacking series by the Crusaders, UA goal keeper David Meves slipped on the grass after making a play on a ball which left Valpo's Stipo Zeba with an open look at the net. Zeba's shot was deflected however when UA defender Chad Barson slipped into position to make the team save and keep UA's clean sheet intact.

Photo Credit: Pam Moody

Men's Soccer Exhibition Ends in 2-2 Draw for Akron and Xavier

AKRON, OH - April 16, 2011 - Bookend goals by Will Walker helped Xavier University finish with a 2-2 draw against the University of Akron at Schrank Field. Darren Mattocks and Scott Caldwell both registered goals for the hometown Zips.

The match began with Xavier on the attack, taking two quick shots in the first two minutes. The second resulted in a goal by Will Walker, who shot from 15 yards out, the ball taking an awkward bounce off the right post and then the left before crossing the line.

Akron would respond by pushing forward and sending a battery of shots at Xavier goalkeeper Justin Marshall. The Zips would throw a ridiculous 10 shots, 6 of them on goal, at the Xavier D in the first 45 minutes of play. One of them did make it through in the 44th as Jamaican striker Darren Mattocks scored from a mass of players in front of the goal.

The sides would enter halftime knotted up at 1-1, but Akron led in most of the statistical categories. Shots (10), shots on goal (6), and corner kicks (4) all favored the home team with Xavier having an edge only in saves with 5.

There was a feeling that momentum shifted to the Zips entering the second half. This seemed to be the case as Akron was awarded a penalty kick in the 48th after Stow native Ben Speas was taken down in the box. Midfielder Scott Caldwell converted with a shot to his right, putting Akron up 2-0.

The home squad kept up the pressure in an exceedingly physical game that ended with a total of 20 fouls. Akron midfielder Thomas Schmitt sent a strike off the right post in the 62nd, giving the Musketeers quite a scare. The home fans thought they had the elusive third goal in the 85th when English midfielder Luke Holmes, formerly of Notre Dame College (OH), launched an absolute rocket off the crossbar. The ball struck with a thud and dropped down just inches from the line. Simply put it was very, very close.

"I came in and took a touch, tried to find the far corner, but got underneath it a little bit," Holmes stated. "It hit the bar and came out unfortunately."

The Zips still looked as if they were headed for victory until Will Walker broke away from the Akron D and took a masterful shot from 12 yards out in the 89th, a strike that made it past Akron keeper David Meves. The goal gave the visitors a 2-2 draw against the defending national champions, a result that didn't impress Akron Associate Head Coach Jared Embick.

"There were times when it looked like we were going to get the third and run away with it," Embick stated in postgame comments. "But we would have a letdown mentally. Obviously we are not happy with it at the end."

"You take seven guys out of the team, the team is going to take a while to get together," Embick continued. "But we're not patient guys so we would like it to see it come together quicker."

Akron will finish their spring schedule at home against Valparaiso on April 27th.

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Akron Men's Soccer Wraps Up Road Schedule on Positive Note

XENIA, OH - April 10, 2011 - The University of Akron men's soccer team went 1-0-2 in a trio of 45-minute exhibitions against Wright State, Notre Dame and Cincinnati at the Athletes in Action Showcase Sunday afternoon.

The Zips defended well in each contest, playing the Raiders and Fighting Irish to scoreless draws and earning a 1-0 decision over the Bearcats. In all, UA has now recorded six shutouts in eight games this spring.

"Overall, I thought today was a positive step in the right direction," said UA head coach Caleb Porter. "I'm happy our team defending was better in all three games and we didn't give up a goal. On the attacking side, we needed to do better with the chances we created. But we did create numerous quality opportunities and that's encouraging."

UA junior Scott Caldwell scored the game-winner against Cincinnati on a penalty kick.

"We were able to go undefeated and control the majority of the play today," Porter said. "Hopefully, our young group can build on this heading into our last two games. I know they are excited to finish with two home games and the opportunity to show our fans they are making progress and look primed for another very successful fall."

The Zips will wrap up their spring schedule at Cub Cadet Field, formerly Lee R. Jackson Soccer Field, against Xavier next Saturday at 2 p.m. and Valparaiso on Apr. 27.

University of Akron Men's Soccer Defeated by Maryland, 3-1, in Exhibition Match

AKRON, OH - April 2, 2011 - The University of Akron men's soccer team fell behind 2-0 in the first half and couldn't catch up in a 3-1 exhibition loss to visiting Maryland Saturday afternoon at Cub Cadet Field.

The Zips had opportunities, out-shooting the Terrapins, 10-7, but couldn't capitalize despite recording five shots on frame. Coincidentally, UA suffered a 3-1 defeat at Maryland during the spring season last year prior to their NCAA Championship campaign.

Darren Mattocks scored the lone goal for Akron in the 78th minute on a beautiful strike from 22 yards into the upper left-hand corner of the net. It was the third goal of the spring season for the Jamaican striker, who was one of the nation's top scorers last fall and is one of four returning starters this spring.

Maryland took a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute when John Stertzer found Patrick Mullins on the left flank. Mullins drew the Akron defender in then fired far post for the goal.

UA had a couple of chances to tie the game minutes later but was denied each time. In the first, Martin Ontiveros made an athletic play to save the ball from going over the Terrapin end line with a high arching volley back toward the box. With the keeper off the line, Mattocks redirected the ball with a header towards the right side of the net but a Maryland defender slid over to make the stop. It was one of three team saves for UM on the day.

Just two minutes later, Reinaldo Brenes drew a foul just outside the top right corner of penalty box to set up a free kick for Scott Caldwell. The midfielder bent a service towards the back post where Michael Balogun flicked it wide with a diving header. Conversely, the Terrapins made it 2-0 before the half thanks to a breakaway goal from Matt Oduran in the 41st minute.

Notre Dame College transfer Luke Holmes, who made his spring debut to start the second half for the Zips, nearly got a goal back for UA in the 52nd minute off a corner kick. Following a service from Caldwell, Holmes headed the ball from the middle of the penalty area towards the left post but once again a Maryland defender was there to bail out UM goalkeeper Will Swaim. 

John Stertzer added Maryland's third and final goal of the day with a long-range strike in the 66th minute. The Terrapins advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals in each of the last two seasons and won the national championship in 2005 and 2008.

The Zips (3-2) will next travel to the Athletes in Action Showcase in Xenia, Ohio, where they will face Wright State, Notre Dame and Cincinnati on Apr. 10 in abbreviated contests.

University of Akron Men's Soccer Announces 2011 Fall Schedule

AKRON, OH - March 31, 2011 - Ten home games, including visits from three Big Ten Schools, Wake Forest, New Mexico, and a season opener against Cleveland State with historic implications, highlight the fall schedule of the NCAA champion University of Akron men's soccer team, head coach Caleb Porter announced Thursday.

Additionally, the Zips, who captured the school's first team national championship in any sport in 2010, will make two trips to the state of California, host the annual University of Akron Tournament and play Michigan, UC Santa Barbara, Tulsa and St. Louis in enemy territory in 2011. In all, UA will face seven opponents who competed in last season's NCAA Tournament and four who advanced to the Round of 16 or beyond.

"This is one of the toughest schedules we've ever had and it will be quite challenging," said Porter, who is the winningest active coach in the NCAA with a five-year career record of 90-13-10 (.841). "That's what top players want though, and that's what we need in order to continue moving forward as a program."

Three Sweet 16 qualifiers from a year ago are on UA's home schedule, including Ohio State (Sept. 28), Penn State (Oct. 12) and Michigan State (Nov. 2). Additionally, a much-anticipated rematch of last season's NCAA semifinal game against Michigan will take place in Ann Arbor on Oct. 18, while a late-season contest against Wake Forest (Oct. 29) will represent just the third time UA has hosted an ACC school and the first time since 1993. The Demon Deacons, who have qualified for the NCAA Tournament 14 times since 1980, advanced to four straight College Cups from 2006-09 and won the national championship in 2007.

"To win a national championship and to develop professional players, every game is of the utmost importance," Porter said. "It's about growth; and for us to grow individually and collectively, we need as many quality matches as possible.

"We can't lose in the long run with this approach, but it might mean our short-term results fall short. If so, I'm okay with that because I know when we get into the tournament, we will be battle tested and I also know it's what the players need to make it at the next level. This philosophy has worked well and we will continue to play the best teams we can find. This new group is extremely excited and hungry to leave their legacy next fall."

Information about 2011 season tickets and single-game prices will be available next week, when renewals are mailed. Visit for complete details.

The Zips, who will feature 10 returning letterwinners and four starters from last season's record-setting team, will kick off the 2011 campaign with an opportunity to make history against the only team to defeat them a year ago when Cleveland State makes the short trip south on Aug. 27.

UA, which matched an NCAA milestone by extending its home unbeaten streak to 39 contests in 2010, will stand alone in the record books with a positive result against the Vikings. Additionally, it will mark the first time UA has opened the season on its home soil since 2007 and just the second time it has done so overall under Porter.

The first of two trips to the Golden State follows as Akron will head to Northridge, Calif., to compete in the University of Cal-Northridge Tournament. There, the Zips will face Cal-State Fullerton (Sept. 1) and the host Matadors (Sept. 3).

Another road game at Saint Louis, one of the most honored men's soccer programs in NCAA history, follows on Sept. 10. The Zips, who hosted and defeated the Billikens, 4-0, in 2009, will be making their first trip to St. Louis since the 1975 season. SLU won 10 NCAA championships from 1959-73.

From there, the Zips return home to host New Mexico (Sept. 16) and Cal Poly (Sept. 18) in the annual University of Akron Tournament. UA will be looking to avenge a 1-0 setback to the Lobos in Albuquerque from 2008 and will be facing Cal Poly for the first time in program history.

After taking a brief break from mid-week competition, the Zips will return to Tulsa (Sept. 24) for the second time in three seasons. UA earned a 4-0 victory in front of 4,744 fans in Akron before a live-televised audience on Fox Soccer Channel a year ago. Interestingly, after defeating the Golden Hurricane twice in 2009 (once during the regular season and again during the NCAA Tournament), it will be the fourth time the two non-conference schools have met in the past three years.

The Zips will face another familiar foe when intrastate rival Ohio State (Oct. 28), whom Akron played to a 2-2 draw in 2010, comes to town for just UA's fourth home game during the first month of the campaign before opening Mid-American Conference play on the road for the second consecutive season. Akron's contest at Western Michigan (Oct. 1) will be a re-match of last season's MAC Tournament championship game in which the Zips topped the Broncos, 4-0, to capture their fourth consecutive MAC Tournament crown.

UA will then head back to California and the site of last season's College Cup weekend when it travels to UC-Santa Barbara and Harder Stadium for a match-up against the Gauchos (Oct. 5), which will represent just the second time UA has faced UCSB all-time. A three-game homestand is the reward for the Zips' cross-country travels, however, as Northern Illinois (Oct. 8), Penn State (Oct. 12) and Hartwick (Oct. 15) pay visit to wrap up the middle third of the regular season.

A brief road swing to Michigan and Buffalo (Oct. 26) precedes another three-game homestand - representing UA's final home games of the regular season - which gets underway against Bowling Green (Oct. 26) and continues with Wake Forest and Michigan State. The Zips will play their final match of the regular season at Florida Atlantic (Nov. 5).

Also announced recently was a partnership between The University of Akron and Cub Cadet, the premier brand of Cleveland-based MTD Products, which will rename the Zips' new, state-of-the-art grass soccer field Cub Cadet Field.  

Formerly known as Lee R. Jackson Field, the new soccer field and complex underwent a complete and remarkable transformation during 2010 to effectively establish it as a premier example of a model natural grass playing field.  Renovations were significant and included installing a new field base, drainage and irrigation system, special natural grass surface, grandstands, stadium seating, and an advanced lighting system to accommodate requirements for national media and television coverage.

The new Cub Cadet Field serves as the home playing field for the 2010 NCAA national champion UA men's soccer program as well as the women's program.  

With more than 40,000 fans flocking to the pitch a year ago, the Zips finished second in the nation in attendance with an average of 3,213. In fact, UA was one of just four schools in Division I (UC Santa Barbara, Connecticut and Cal Poly were the others) to average more than 3,000 fans per game.

The Zips, who have posted a 3-1 record this spring, will continue their exhibition schedule Saturday when 2008 NCAA champion Maryland comes to Cub Cadet Field for a 2 p.m. match-up. The game is open to the public and there is no charge for admission.

2011 Men's Soccer Fall Schedule
Aug. 19 or 20 - vs. Duke (Exh.), 7:00 p.m.
Aug. 27 - Cleveland State, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 1 - vs. Cal State Fullerton, 8 p.m.
Sept. 3 - vs. Cal State Northridge, 10:30 p.m.
Sept. 10 - at Saint Louis, 8:00 p.m.
Sept. 16 - New Mexico, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 - Cal Poly, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 24 - at Tulsa, 8:00 p.m.
Sept. 28 - Ohio State, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 1 - at Western Michigan*, 1:00 p.m.
Oct. 5 - at UC Santa Barbara, 10:30 p.m.
Oct. 8 - Northern Illinois*, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 - Penn State, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 15 - Hartwick*, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18 - at Michigan, 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 21 - at Buffalo*, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 26 - Bowling Green*, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 29 - Wake Forest, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 2 - Michigan State, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 5 - at Florida Atlantic*, 7:00 p.m.

*- Mid-American Conference game. Home contests in bold.

Akron Men's Soccer Earns 1-0 Victories Versus Michigan, Oakland

PONTIAC, MI - March 26, 2011 - The NCAA Champion University of Akron men's soccer team picked up a pair of 1-0 victories against Michigan and Oakland Saturday at the Michigan Bucks College Cup at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas Saturday.

Both exhibition games were 60 minutes long with two 30-minute halves. Scott Caldwell, who recorded a pair of assists in UA's win against Rayo Vallecano earlier this month, assisted both goals as the Zips improved their spring record to 3-1.

In the first game, which featured a re-match of last year's College Cup semifinal, the Zips jumped on top in the 54th minute on a restart goal. Caldwell sent a low driven free kick across the box that Chad Barson shot far-post to sink the Wolverines. Another restart goal proved to be the difference against the host Golden Grizzlies in game two. This time, Caldwell sent a free kick into the box where Loyola University Chicago transfer Kayvon Afsarifard headed it home in the 50th minute.

The Zips are off the another strong start this spring despite the loss of seven starters to the professional ranks from last year's national championship team. Additionally, returning midfielders Martin Ontiveros and Reinaldo Brenes, who are recovering from injuries, were both unavailable Saturday.

UA fans will get their first opportunity to see the new Zips in-person next Saturday when UA hosts 2008 NCAA Champion Maryland at 2 p.m.

Akron Starters vs. Michigan: GK David Meves, LB Kyle Culbertson, CB Matt Dagilis, CB Chad Barson, RB Eric Stevenson, DM Michael Balogun, LM Thomas Schmitt. AM Ben Speas, RM Scott Caldwell, F Darren Mattocks, F Diego Navarette (McKauly Tulloch 50')

Akron Starters vs. Oakland: GK David Meves (Anthony Ponikvar 30'), LB Kyle Culbertson (Gabriel Genovesi 30'), CB Matt Dagilis, CB Chad Barson, RB Kayvon Afsarifard, DM Scott Caldwell (Kyle Culbertson 30'), LM Thomas Schmitt (David Murrow 50'), AM Ben Speas (Scott Caldwell 30'), RM Eric Stevenson, F Darren Mattocks, F McKauly Tulloch (Diego Navarrete 30')

Remaining Akron Spring Exhibition Schedule:

Apr. 2 vs. Maryland, Akron, Ohio, 2:00 p.m.
Apr.  10 vs. Wright State, Xenia, Ohio, 12:00 p.m.
Apr. 10 vs. Notre Dame, Xenia, Ohio, 2:00 p.m.
Apr. 10 vs. Cincinnati, Xenia, Ohio, 3 p.m.
Apr.  16 vs. Xavier, Akron, Ohio, 2:00 p.m.
Apr. 27 vs. Valparaiso, Akron, Ohio, 7:30 p.m.

Akron Men's Soccer Falls Victim to Second-Half Penalty Kick

AKRON, OH - March 17, 2011 - The University of Akron men's soccer team went toe-to-toe with the B-team from one of the top soccer organizations in the world but ultimately fell in a 1-0 defeat to the Real Madrid reserves Thursday. The match was played at the Real Madrid first team academy/training grounds.

After playing to a scoreless tie at halftime, Real Madrid capitalized on a penalty kick in the 73rd minute. The crucial foul was called after a cross was served in from the left flank and UA defender Matt Dagilis stepped in front of a Real Madrid striker. Dagilis appeared to win the ball cleanly but the call went against the Zips and Real Madrid seized the opportunity to score the game's lone goal.

Akron responded with a few chances of its own but could not net the equalizer in falling to 1-1 on the spring after defeating the Rayo Vallacano reserves Tuesday.

Real Madrid is the most successful team in Spanish football and was voted by FIFA as the most successful football club of the 20th century, having won a record 31 La Liga titles, 17 Spanish "Copa del Rey" Cups, eight Spanish Super Cups, a record 9 UEFA Champions Leagues, 2 UEFA Cups, 1 UEFA Supercup, and 3 Intercontinental Cups.

Akron Starters (subs): GK David Meves, DEF Kyle Culbertson, DEF Matt Dagilis, DEF Chad Barson, DEF Eric Stevenson, MID Michael Balogun, MID Scott Caldwell, MID Thomas Schmitt (Ben Speas 45), MID Martin Ontiveros, FWD Darren Mattocks, FWD McKauly Tulloch (Diego Navarette 55)

Men's Soccer Claims 3-0 Victory Over Rayo Reserves

AKRON, OH - March 15, 2011 - Behind three second-half goals, The University of Akron men's soccer team powered to a 3-0 victory over the Rayo Vellacano reserves Tuesday in the first exhibition match of the Zips' Spain trip at Rayo Vallecano Complex. Rayo Vellecano is currently in first place in Spain's second division.

Darren Mattocks, who finished third in the nation with 18 goals in 2010, paced UA's attack with a pair of goals Tuesday while Scott Caldwell, who started at attacking mid, finished with two assists. Fellow Jamaican striker McKauly Tulloch chipped in with a goal and an assist.

After playing to a scoreless tie at the break, the Zips opened the scoring early in the second half when Caldwell stole the ball from a Rayo defender then played Mattocks in. Mattocks made Rayo pay by slipping the ball past the keeper to put UA up 1-0. Tulloch, who subbed in for incoming freshman Diego Navarette in the 63rd minute, finished Akron's next scoring opportunity when he slammed a shot back post following a feed from Caldwell.

Tulloch was involved in the third and final goal of the afternoon as well when he dribbled a defender in the box before unleashing a blast off the post. Mattocks was there to collect the deflection however and buried the rebound.

Akron Starters
(subs): GK David Meves, DEF Kyle Culbertson, DEF Matt Dagilis, DEF Chad Barson, DEF Kayvon Afsarifard (Eric Stevenson 46), MID Michael Balogun, MID Martin Ontiveros, MID Eric Stevenson (Thomas Schmitt 46), MID Scott Caldwell, FWD Darren Mattocks, FWD Diego Navarette (McKauly Tulloch 63)

Trip to Spain Headlines U of Akron Spring Schedule

AKRON, OH - February 16, 2011 - A nine-day trip to Madrid and a trio of home matches - including an April 2nd contest against NCAA quarterfinalist Maryland - highlight the spring schedule for the 2010 national champion University of Akron men's soccer program as announced Wednesday by Zips' head coach Caleb Porter.

From March 11-20th, the Zips will be guests at the "The City of Football", the Spanish national team training center, where they will train and play against reserve teams of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, and Getafe.

"This is an opportunity of a lifetime for the Akron soccer program to spend our spring break in Spain, the top soccer country in the world right now," Porter said. "To be able to immerse ourselves in the game as well as take in the Spanish culture will make for a unique experience unlike anything our team has done before."

A split-squad match-up against College Cup participant Michigan (17-5-3) and Summit League champion Oakland (7-11-3) at the Ultimate Soccer Arena in Pontiac, Mich., await the Zips upon their return on Mar. 26. Akron will face the Wolverines in a slightly abbreviated rematch of last year's NCAA semifinal at 1:30 p.m. before taking on the Golden Grizzlies at 3:15 p.m. Both games will feature two, 35-minute halves.

The Zips will then host ACC Tournament champion Maryland (19-3-1) at 2 p.m. on Apr. 2 in their first of three home matches of the spring. The Terrapins were the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament a year ago before being upset by the Wolverines in a 3-2 double-overtime defeat in the quarterfinals. All three home games on the Zips' schedule will be full, 90-minute matches and are open to the public at no charge.

Akron will stay in state when it heads to the Athletes in Action Showcase in Xenia on Apr. 10. There, the Zips will play three, 45-minute games against Wright State (4-12-1), Notre Dame (10-6-4) and Cincinnati (7-5-7) starting at Noon on Apr. 10. UA will conclude its spring schedule with a pair of home games against Atlantic 10 champion Xavier (10-7-4), starting at 2 p.m. on Apr. 16, and Valparaiso (9-8-2), starting at 7:30 p.m. on Apr. 27.

In all, the Zips' spring schedule features many familiar opponents from last fall, including Michigan, whom Akron also defeated 7-1 during the regular season. Additionally, UA earned a 1-0 win over Cincinnati at Lee R. Jackson Soccer Field in September and a 5-0 shutout at Oakland in the Ultimate Soccer Arena last October.

The 2011 Zips, who finished with a record of 22-1-2 last season, will feature four returning starters from their record-breaking national championship campaign, including Freshman All-American striker Darren Mattocks; a pair of Academic All-Americans and All-MAC First Team honorees in defender Chad Barson and goal keeper David Meves; as well as midfielder Scott Caldwell, who recorded the game-winning goal in UA's 1-0 win over Louisville in the national title game.

Akron Men's Soccer Announces 2011 Signing Class

AKRON, OH - February 8, 2011 - University of Akron head men's soccer coach Caleb Porter announced the Zips' 2011 signing class Tuesday.

In all, the Zips will welcome seven incoming freshmen and two transfers following their historic 2010 NCAA National Championship season. Of the seven first-year players, three are ranked in the top 10 of Top Drawer Soccer's Top 100 recruits while five were ranked in College Soccer News' Top 150 overall. These rankings do not include international students or transfers.

Midfielder Wil Trapp (Gahanna, Ohio/Gahanna Lincoln HS), defender/midfielder Bryan Gallego (Kinnelon, N.J./Kinnelon HS), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle, Wash./O'Dea HS), forward Diego Navarrete (Santiago, Chile/SSCC Manquehue),  attacking midfielder/forward Luke Holmes (Oldham, England/Our Lady's R.C. HS/Notre Dame College), defender Kayvon Afsarifard (Chardon, Ohio/St. Ignatius HS/Loyola University Chicago), defender Kyle Culbertson (Olentangy, Ohio/Olentangy HS), forward Andy Chiu (El Paso, Texas/Cornado HS) and midfielder David Murrow (Cleveland, Ohio/Strongsville HS) will continue their careers with the Zips this fall.  

"With the departure of seven starting players and five underclassmen, we certainly had some major holes to fill," said UA head coach Caleb Porter. "However, I am confident that this group will help us maintain our standard of excellence on and off the field. This class offers a mix of very talented and experienced freshman, who have played at the youth international level, as well as some transfers and international players, who will bring much needed maturity to the group."

"When you build a team, having a variety of pieces and the right types of players is very important. Each of these young men were identified because they fit our style of play and also because they bring something a little different to the table. Due to losing so many underclassmen early, we also needed to be very diligent to remain a balanced team with quality options at every position. I believe we have done that with these players."

"Also, we will still look to add one, maybe two more recruits as the spring progresses; most likely coming from overseas.  Regardless, I expect several of these newcomers to step in immediately. Combine that with an experienced group of returning players, and our expectation is to hopefully be competing again for a national championship next fall.

Nagbe Claims Akron's Second Consecutive Hermann Trophy

ST. LOUIS, MO - January 7, 2011 - For the second consecutive season, the nation's best collegiate soccer player comes from The University of Akron. This was confirmed Friday night when Zips' junior Darlington Nagbe was presented the Hermann Trophy at the Missouri Athletic Club.

The Hermann Trophy is considered the most prestigious honor in intercollegiate soccer and is the official National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Player of the Year award for Division I competition. Nagbe, a two-time NSCAA All-American, was one of three finalists for the award, along with Indiana's Will Bruin, who was the first runner-up, and Louisville's Colin Rolfe.

"It feels great," said Nagbe about winning the award. "The two other finalists are great players and in a way I was a little bit surprised to win because they had better stats than me. But I'm grateful for the honor especially because any one of my teammates could have been up here accepting this award instead of me."

Nagbe, a native of Lakewood, Ohio, earned the prestigious recognition after Teal Bunbury, who earned his first cap with the United States full national team last November, became the first player in UA history to win the award a year ago. In all, Akron is just the fifth school in the history of the men's player of the year award to record consecutive winners and the first since Virginia in 1995-96.

Nagbe also represents the third UA finalist in as many years for the Hermann Trophy as current Major League Soccer star Steve Zakuani was the first runner-up for the signature crystal ball following the 2008 season.

"Having three different players in three consecutive years make the final three – and two win it – says a lot about the talent we have and the talent we're developing," said UA head coach Caleb Porter. "This has been a magical season and this award is the icing on the cake. I'm really happy for Darlington because it couldn't have happened to a better kid. He's worked so hard for this."

Nagbe, the 2010 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year, led Akron to its first team national championship in any sport last December in Santa Barbara, Calif., with a 1-0 victory over Louisville. The skillful striker paced the Zips' vaunted attack with a career-high 13 assists, which was ranked seventh among all Division I players. Moreover, six of Nagbe's helpers set up game-winning goals for Akron, which averaged 2.56 goals/game as a team (ranked third nationally).

"Darlington's not necessarily a guy people will appreciate based solely on stats," Porter said. "But if anyone comes to see him play, you notice his quality, his gifts and talents. You'll see him do things that nobody can do. I can honestly say that of all the college players I've coached, he does things in practice and game-in and game-out that I've never seen anybody do.  And it's the subtle things: the touches, the change of pace, the balance, how he gets out of pressure. He's a playmaker. Playmakers aren't always looking to score goals, they're looking to make plays; and Darlington makes plays through his possession, his vision and his touches. He was a key player for us and a big part of our success."

Nagbe's chemistry with first-year Jamaican striker Darren Mattocks was key to the Zips' attack up top as the two combined for 25 goals, including eight game-winners, and 18 assists. Nagbe, who finished fourth on the team with seven goals, was named to the College Cup All-Tournament Team and earned All-American status from College Soccer News and Top Drawer Soccer.

"Darlington and Darren were a lethal combination," Porter said. "It was the perfect tandem because Darren's always looking to get behind, stretch the field and go to the goal; and Darlington's going to check, hold the ball, link to the midfielders and also roll, drive and slip Darren. Darren's working the space behind the back four and Darlington's working the space in front of the back four. That made it very difficult for teams to deal with."

Nagbe was one of five Akron underclassmen to sign professional contracts with Generation adidas last month and will forgo his final year of eligibility to enter the 2011 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, which will be held in Baltimore, Md., on Jan. 13. Live Coverage will be provided by ESPN2, starting at Noon (EST).

Each of UA's previous two Hermann Trophy finalists did not wait long to hear their names called at the MLS draft as Zakuani was selected No. 1 overall in 2009 and Bunbury went No. 4 overall in 2010. Nagbe is expected to follow suit.

"It's been neat to see those three guys, who all played together and were friends, grow and develop," Porter said. "I think Steve paved the way and inspired Teal and Darlington to follow. Then when Steve left, Teal emerged. When Teal left, it was Darlington's time to step up and now they're going to all play in the MLS together."

Five UA Starters Sign Generation adidas Contracts

AKRON, OH - December 28, 2010 - Five underclassmen from The University of Akron men’s soccer 2010 national championship team have signed contracts with Generation adidas and will enter the 2011 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, the MLS announced Tuesday.

Junior striker Darlington Nagbe, junior midfielder Michael Nanchoff, junior defender Kofi Sarkodie, sophomore defender Zarek Valentin and freshman midfielder Perry Kitchen will each forgo their remaining eligibility to turn professional. The five UA starters collectively represent the most early signees from a single team in MLS history.

"This is an exciting day for the entire Akron soccer program and certainly a dream come true for this special group of Zips players,” said UA head coach Caleb Porter, who recently signed a 10-year contract extension. “It wasn’t surprising after winning the national championship that MLS identified several players as being ready for the next level. Certainly, this could be perceived as bittersweet losing so many quality underclassmen at one time but when a player is offered the coveted Generation adidas contract it gives them the best platform to enter professional soccer and I am nothing but happy for them.”

Generation Adidas is a joint venture between Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer aimed at raising the level of young soccer talent in the United States. The program, sponsored by adidas, encourages early entry (without college graduation) of American players into MLS. Entering into the program automatically classifies a player as professional and thus, disqualifies them from playing college soccer. As a result, Generation adidas players are also guaranteed scholarships to continue their college education should their professional career not pan out.

“I think its important for people to understand its not so much that these young men were looking to leave Akron or that they are prioritizing a soccer career over school,” Porter said. “It’s more of a case that the Generation adidas program gives them the incredible opportunity to have the best of both worlds with the way these contracts are structured.  They will receive a guaranteed multi-year contract and as a part of the program each player is provided an educational grant to finish out their degrees when the time is right.”

It is the third consecutive season an Akron player has signed one of the coveted GA contracts. Steve Zakuani was the first to do it in 2008 and teammates Teal Bunbury and Blair Gavin followed in 2009. Zakuani was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 draft and the first ever selection of the expansion Seattle Sounders. Bunbury was drafted No. 4 overall by Kansas City in 2010 while Gavin went a few picks later, No. 10 overall to Chivas USA.

“Obviously, for the vast majority of college soccer players four years and graduation is the only option,” Porter said. “For a select few who are talented enough to be offered this type of opportunity, it becomes a very hard thing to pass up. It’s actually quite an honor for our program to now have had eight players receive this same path into MLS. This should bode well for what Akron soccer is doing to develop players and hopefully makes a strong statement to future recruits looking for the best soccer environment possible.”

Until 2005, the GA program was sponsored by Nike and was called Project-40. It is just the third time in the program’s history – dating back to 1997 – more than two players have been selected from the same team. Maryland and Virginia each had three players signed in 2008 and 1997, respectively.  

“We want to wish Kofi, Darlington, Michael, Zarek and Perry all the best and appreciate their contributions to making history with the program.  My staff and I will miss working with them and I know our fans will miss watching them in the Akron uniform.  I know they will continue to be tremendous ambassadors for the University of Akron during their professional careers and I'm looking forward to following their success."

Along with departing seniors Anthony Ampaipitakwong and Chris Korb, who have both been invited to participate in the MLS Draft Combine in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., next month, the Zips are expected to have as many as seven players selected in the MLS SuperDraft, which will be held in Baltimore, Md., on Jan. 13.

The 2010 Zips (22-1-2) captured the first team national championship in school history in any sport on Dec. 12 with a 1-0 victory over Louisville in Santa Barbara, Calf. It was also just the third team national championship in Mid-American Conference history and the first since Western Michigan’s cross country team won back-to-back titles in 1964 and 1965.

UA Men's Soccer Honored with Multiple Awards

AKRON, OH - December 24, 2010 - University of Akron junior defender Kofi Sarkodie was named Player of the Year by Soccer America Friday. It is the third consecutive season an Akron player has received the esteemed award from the national publication.

It is also the third significant recognition Sarkodie has received following the Zips' national championship season. The native of Huber Heights and Hermann Trophy semifinalist was named the 2010 ESPN Academic All-American of the Year as well as an NSCAA First Team All-American previously. Sarkodie follows Teal Bunbury (2009) and Steve Zakuani (2008) as the only players in school history to win player of the year honors from Soccer America.

As one of the most dynamic players in the country, Sarkodie recorded a career-high eight goals and six assists in 22 games from his outside back position.

In all, he finished with five game-winning goals, which was the second-highest total on the team. Sarkodie led the Zips to the national championship game with a header in the 74th minute to defeat Michigan in the NCAA semifinal (Dec. 10) after recording his first career hat trick against the Wolverines in a 7-1 rout during the regular season (Oct. 19).

Sarkodie also netted the decisive blow in a penalty-kick shootout against Cal in the NCAA quarterfinals (Dec. 4) to advance UA to the College Cup for the second consecutive year. Akron (22-1-2) captured the first team national championship in any sport with a 1-0 victory over Louisville in Santa Barbara, Calif., on Dec. 12.

Sarkodie was joined by senior midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong and junior striker Darlington Nagbe on the Soccer America's MVP First Team. UA's three honorees were the most by any school.

Ampaipitakwong is a two-time NSCAA All-American and became the school's first winner of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award in 2010. The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I men's soccer coaches, national soccer media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in NCAA Division I men's soccer. The native of Carrollton, Texas, was named to the All-Mid-American Conference First Team all four years at UA and was a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy in each of the last two seasons. Ampaipitakwong is the Zips' all-time leader for games played (93) and finished his career with 17 goals and 30 assists.

Nagbe, who is one of three finalists for the Hermann Trophy, is another two-time NSCAA All-American after earning first-team recognition in 2010. The native of Lakewood, Ohio, paced Akron's vaunted attack with a career-high 13 assists, which was ranked 10th among all Division players. Moreover, of his 13 assists, six set up game-winning goals, including helpers against Wake Forest (Sept. 3), Cal State Northridge (Sept. 17), Oakland (Oct. 6), Michigan (Oct. 19), Michigan State (Nov. 3) and West Virginia (Nov. 21).

Nagbe also netted a pair of game-winning goals himself with the decisive strike in a pair of big wins against No. 9 Creighton (Oct. 27) and Western Michigan (Nov. 14) in the MAC Tournament championship game. In all, Nagbe netted seven goals on the year while starting all 25 games up top for UA.

Soccer America's MVPs were introduced in 1976 and honor the players who have had the biggest impact on their team's success regardless of position.

Soccer America also named midfielder Perry Kitchen and striker Darren Mattocks to its All-Freshman First Team Friday. The Zips were the only school in the country to land two players on the first team.

Kitchen, who was recently called into the January U.S. U-20 national team camp, appeared in all 25 games as the Zips' starting defensive midfielder. The native of Indianapolis finished with six goals – including the game-winning strike against Cal State Northridge (Sept. 17) – and one assist in 2010. Kitchen was particularly dangerous in the postseason with beautiful, long-range goals against Cal in the NCAA quarterfinal (Dec. 4) and against Michigan at the College Cup (Dec. 10).

Mattocks developed into one of the most feared strikers in the country with a team-high 18 goals, which was tied for the third-highest total in the nation. The Jamaican native scored multiple goals in four contests in 2010 while netting his first hat trick in a 4-0 win over Buffalo (Oct. 16). Mattocks was the second highest scoring freshman in the country (Michigan's Soony Saad had 19) with a team-leading six game-winning goals. He also finished with five assists and was ranked 13th for points-per-game average nationally (1.64).

University of Akron Extends Porter's Contract Through 2020 Season

AKRON, OH - December 17, 2010 - The University of Akron announced Friday that Caleb Porter has signed a six-year contract extension that will keep him as the Zips men's soccer head coach through the 2020 season.

With a career mark of 90-13-10 (.841) over five seasons, Porter, the 2009 NSCAA National Coach of the Year and four-time Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year, is the NCAA's winningest active coach.

The Zips captured the school's first team national championship with a 1-0 victory Sunday over Louisville in Santa Barbara, Calif. It was just the third national championship by a Mid-American Conference school all-time, and the first in 45 years.

"The University of Akron is very proud of the remarkable season led by Caleb Porter and his team in bringing home the first-ever NCAA national championship in a team sport to the university. This victory is shared and celebrated by the Greater Akron community and all of Ohio," said UA President Luis M. Proenza. "Coach Porter is as committed to the development of outstanding character and academic success among his players as he is to  achieving victory on the soccer field.  

"I'm very pleased that the University will have Coach Porter for 10 more years. I think it's important that we not only reward Caleb for the job he's done, but also give him the support and stability he needs to keep our men's soccer program a successful and nationally-respected program for many years to come. Indeed, this win builds upon Akron's winning tradition in soccer that began over 50 years ago and marks an unforgettable moment in our university's history."

In five years under Porter's leadership, the Zips have become the standard for all college soccer programs with a brand of play that is attractive and attack-oriented, yet effective on both sides of the ball.

"Caleb Porter is the best soccer coach in the country and we are proud to keep him here at The University of Akron," UA Director of Athletics Tom Wistrcill said. "This contract shows the University's continued commitment to its athletics department and to fielding the perennial men's soccer program in the country. Caleb is a model coach who builds champions and pursues championships. He develops the complete student-athlete, dedicated to excelling in the classroom while competing and winning at the highest level."

In the past two seasons, no team has been as dominant as Akron, which has lost just one game during the regular run of play over its last 50 games. During that time, the Zips have posted an overall mark of 45-2-3 while becoming the first school to advance to the national championship game in back-to-back seasons since Indiana accomplished the feat in 2003 and 2004.

After matching an NCAA record with 23 consecutive wins in 2009, Akron reached two more Division I milestones during its historic run in 2010 by posting its 11th consecutive shutout and running its home unbeaten streak to 39 games.

"I want to thank Dr. Proenza, (Vice President and Chief of Staff) Candace Campbell Jackson, Tom Wistrcill, (Senior Associate Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator) Mary Lu Gribschaw and the Board of Trustees for their continued commitment to the men's soccer program," Porter said. "With their unwavering support, we were able to achieve our goal of winning the national championship. There are plenty of places to have a coaching career and raise a family, but The University of Akron and this community are truly unique and special.

"I am loyal to Akron and I want to leave a legacy for Akron Soccer. I am proud of our program and the success we have had. Over the last five years, the friendships I have made and the support we have received from our alumni, fans and the AK-Rowdies brings meaning to what we do. I look forward to building on our tradition of excellence for many years to come."

Porter and his staff have developed a proven track record of recruiting and developing the top talent in the nation.  

The Zips have produced a Hermann Trophy finalist in each of the last three seasons, including Teal Bunbury, who became the first UA player to win the prestigious award in 2009, and five Major League Soccer draft picks overall under Porter's watch.

English-born striker Steve Zakuani, who led the nation with 20 goals as a sophomore in 2008, became the No. 1 overall selection of the draft after just two years in Porter's system. In that same mold, Bunbury was the country's top goal scorer in 2009 as a sophomore with 17 goals and was an NSCAA first team All-America honoree.

Additionally, eight Akron players have earned NSCAA All-American status since 2006, including junior forward Darlington Nagbe, a Hermann Trophy finalist in 2010, and junior defender Kofi Sarkodie, the 2010 ESPN Academic All-America of the Year.

As a team, the Zips have been just as impressive in the classroom under Porter's watch.

Akron was ranked eighth in the nation with a cumulative GPA of 3.33 last academic year, highlighted by 10 players posting a GPA of 3.3 or better and five, who earned a 3.8 or better. Including Sarkodie, who became the first player in program history to earn Academic All-America First Team honors in consecutive seasons, four UA players landed on the ESPN Academic All-America squad this season, which marks the most representatives by any single team in UA history.

In all, seven Zips have been named to Academic All-America teams in five seasons under Porter.

Furthermore, Akron midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong, an ESPN Academic All-America Third Team honoree this season, was the recipient of the 2010 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in NCAA Division I men's soccer. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.

Excitement for Akron soccer has escalated to unprecedented heights under Porter. After finishing seventh nationally for attendance in 2009, the Zips drew an average of 3,213 fans to Lee R. Jackson Soccer Field in 2010, which was the second-highest figure in the country and represented an increase of more than 1,000 fans on average from the previous season.

This out-pouring of support from the community led directly to the complete renovation of Lee R. Jackson Soccer Field during the summer of 2010 that included the installation of a new playing surface, a two-tiered grandstand with reserved chair-back and bleacher-back seating, field lighting and team meetings rooms, among other amenities.

Photo Credit: Mike Wise

Governor Strickland Congratulates Men's Soccer Team

AKRON, OH - December 13, 2010 - Ohio Governor Ted Strickland issued the following statement Monday congratulating the University of Akron Men's Soccer Team for winning the NCAA Division I national soccer championship.

"The Zips have made Akron and Ohio proud. Throughout the season, the tournament and the College Cup, the team played hard and showed true perseverance as they captured the first-ever team national championship for The University of Akron. I would like to congratulate the entire men's team and head coach Caleb Porter. The weather yesterday in California may have been a little warmer than it was here in Ohio, but ‘the sun was surely shining' on The University of Akron."

The Zips (22-1-2) captured the school's first team national championship for any sport with a 1-0 victory over Louisville Sunday in Santa Barbara, Calif.


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