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The Zips have returned from Vegas. The team got home on Christmas Eve. I'm still kicking myself for not using the tournament as an excuse to fly out there. I was so mad that I booked a trip for late February.
This is a rematch from last season when, if you remember, Humpty Hitchens nearly started a brawl, when he sprinted toward the Lions' bench after the game. He claimed afterward that he was only running over there to shake hands. It was a close game that the Zips won by three.
A-PB is 0-11, but the Lions have not played a single game at home yet. They have been outscored by an average of 24.4 points per game. They are getting killed on the boards, with a -10 average rebounding deficit.
Brian Walsh is no longer wearing the protective boot that was on his foot. The guard who transferred from Xavier is not eligible until next season.
APB is probably making a killing on all of these road games. It costs a home team anywhere between $50,000 and $150,000. Multiply that by 12 and you are easily funding your program. Plus, you can tell your recruits that they'll get a chance to travel the country the next four (or five) years and play in big-time gyms.
Akron's starters: Zeke Marshall, Alex Abreu, Nik Cvetinovic, Brett McClanahan and Steve McNees.
Abreu has led to Akron's first five points. He tipped the ball away, starting a break. Then he hit a 3.
There are a lot of LeBron James fans left in Akron. But even those folks can't deny that His Highness is showing a level of egotism rarely seen. This quote is from his Twitter this evening: "Faith in your own powers and confidence in your individual methods are essential to success"
Abreu drove into the lane and tossed the ball in the air. It took a split-second for Marshall to realize "heck, that's for me!" He grabbed on the fly and dunked it with both hands. It was a pretty play. If Abreu and Marshall can get on the same page more often, it will be a huge boost. Abreu can penetrate, but he's too short to finish in traffic. The pass, or threat of a pass, could open things up for him a little.
APB guard Savalace Townsend went to the free throw line and took a loooong time to shoot his first. The ref started to count the seconds. If he takes 10 seconds, it's a delay of game and the player loses the free throw opportunity. I really want to see that called tonight. More than anything.
After a made Quincy Diggs shot, Cvetinovic tossed the ball to the referee standing on the sideline near the ABP bench. The ref stopped play and reminded Cvetinovic of the age-old rule that you aren't supposed to touch the ball after a made shot. It's a delay-of-game warning in the NBA.
On the same play, two Zips got banged up. Abreu got tangled up while playing defense on the ball. He went down, winced, and slowly got up, holding his hip. Diggs went to the bench, shaking his right wrist, which has been in a brace for the past couple weeks.
Townsend went to the line again. The ref only made it to a seven-count before the Lions guard hoisted the free throw.
Attendance is only so-so tonight, but I'll contend it's better than prior years during winter break against a nonconference foe. Usually, these games are barren, but there are a lot of folks in the bleachers. Heck, even Rob Ianello is here.
With a Townsend 3, APB cut Akron's lead to two. It was 12 at one point. The Lions have made 5-of-11 3-point attempts and all six free throw shots. APB has had too many uncontested 3 attempts.
As soon as I type that, Akron went on an 9-0 run to reopen a 11-point lead.
Play of the game: McNees threw the ball ahead to Cvetinovic, who spun around, got one hand on the overthrown ball and whipped it to McClanahan in the corner. As you probably assumed, McClanahan made the 3. Akron's lead is now 15.
Akron capped a high-scoring half with a McClanahan jumper from the elbow.
Halftime stats: It's 50-36. Akron shot 47.5 percent from the half. APB wasn't far behind with 41.4 percent. Akron's offense was very efficient, with 13 assists and four turnovers. Townsend has 12 points and seven rebounds. McClanahan has 15 points.
Keith Dambrot just belted out the following comment to Abreu during a time of relative silence in Rhodes Arena: "How many dumb mistakes are you gonna make?!?"
After a brutal 0-11 start to last season, APB went 14-4 in the SWAC and won the conference tournament. The Lions won the play-in game against Winthrop before taking a 73-44 beatdown by Duke, the eventual national champion.
Cvetinovic caught an elbow to the head. The refs are reviewing the video to determine whether the APB player deserves further punishment. The verdict was "no." Here is how the Washington Post breaks down the NCAA's new rule on elbow throwing:
OK, fans. Here is the downside of being wicked good: You lose players early.
The Zips will need to retool their lineup sooner than thought, with five players leaving school to pursue a pro career before their NCAA eligibility expires.
The ABJ's Michael Beaven wrote about it. Click here for a helpful explanation of what the Generation adidas contract means and for Caleb Porter's thoughts on the players' decisions.
I will be liveblogging during tonight's home game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
University of Akron junior defender Kofi Sarkodie earned the national Player of the Year by Soccer America on Friday.
Sarkodie, who helped the Zips (22-1-2) win the national championship 1-0 over Louisville in Santa Barbara, Calif. on Dec. 12, recorded a career-high eight goals and six assists in 22 matches from his outside back position. Sarkodie previously was named the 2010 ESPN Academic All-American of the Year as well as an NSCAA First Team All-American.
It is the third consecutive season a UA player has received the award from the publication. 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.
Senior midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong and junior striker Darlington Nagbe were also named to the Soccer America's MVP first-team with Sarkodie. 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. He played in 24 matches this season, is the Zips' all-time leader for matches played (93) and finished his career with 17 goals and 30 assists.
Nagbe, who is one of three finalists for the Hermann Trophy, is also a two-time NSCAA All-American. He compiled a career-high 13 assists this season to go with seven goals while starting all 25 matches.]ep
Soccer America also named Zips midfielder Perry Kitchen and striker Darren Mattocks to its All-Freshman first-team. UA was the only school in the country to land two players on the first team.
Kitchen appeared in all 25 matches as the Zips' starting defensive midfielder. He finished with six goals and one assist.
Mattocks scored a team-high 18 goals, which was tied for the third-highest total in the nation, and had five assists in 25 matches. Mattocks finished as the second highest scoring freshman in the country to Michigan's Soony Saad, who scored 19 goals.
Akron rebounded from an awful first half to make it competitive against Miami, but the Hurricanes left Las Vegas with a 69-61 win to end the tournament.
Brett McKnight scored 20, but the Zips had an 18-point hole to climb after the first half. He scored 14 straight for the Zips during a 16-0 run.
Miami center Reggie Johnson scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds; his production generally kept Akron farther than an arm's length away.
Alex Abreu was named to the All-Tournament Team.
The Zips return home for a Wednesday game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Ohio State suspended five players for the first five games of 2011, which includes the Zips' trip to Columbus.
Among the players suspended is star quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Akron took down Stetson today in a Las Vegas matinee.
Sharpshooting won it for the Zips, who made 14 3-pointers. Then they closed it out by making 12 consecutive free throw attempts.
It was Akron's third win in five days. And they'll return in 20 hours for the main event of the tournament. Today's game and yesterday's against Arkansas-Little Rock were simply the undercard. The Zips' biggest test is tomorrow at 3 p.m., Eastern Time, when the Zips and Miami Hurricanes face off.
Miami has played strong so far, with a 9-3 record and a win over West Virginia and narrow loss at Memphis. Miami and Akron both played Stetson. The Zips won by 15; The 'Canes won by 14.
The bright lights of Las Vegas brought out the best in Zeke Marshall, who grabbed 16 rebounds to go along with 14 points.
Akron turned up an Ace in its first deal at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic, beating Arkansas-Little Rock 75-61.
Darryl Roberts scored 16 points to lead the Zips, who shot 50 percent from the field (or is it the desert?).
Akron will play Stetson tomorrow at 5:15 p.m., Eastern Time.
I ran into President Luis Proenza tonight, who is still 100 percent giddy after Akron's first team national championship.
He knew the first thing he must do after the buzzer sounded was keep Caleb Porter here. As you can see below, his team put together a creative package that will deter Porter from leaving, while adequately compensating the nation's best coach.
Proenza is to be credited for rewarding success and giving Men's Soccer the priority it deserves in his administration.
Akron is now taking care of its soccer coach how it should.
Starting January 1, Caleb Porter will receive an extra $100K in salary and $800 per month for a vehicle.
The new agreement provides some security to ensure Porter remains in blue and gold. Akron will pay $15,000 per year into an escrow account, which will be dumped into Porter's possession if Porter stays through February 28, 2021. Porter also must pay $200,000 if he leaves in the next three years, and $150,000 if he leaves prematurely in any year after that.
Click below to read the terms sheet, obtained by public records request. It includes other terms to help advance the program, which shows that Porter wasn't only negotiating for his own pocketbook, but also for sustained university support of the program.
Terms of Agreement with Porter 2010
As you might expect for a Saturday afternoon game against a MEAC school, attendance is not great. There were more people here for the preseason game. Brett McKnight is back on the roster, and he led Akron out of the locker room. Let’s hope that this time he got the message.
Bethune-Cookman is led by 6-foot-3 guard C.J. Reed, the coach’s son who averages 36.9 minutes and 18.6 points per game. The most imposing specimen is 6-9, 320-pound center Albert Abrahams. He is a big man. The senior plays only 12.3 minutes per game, though.
The Zips play next on Tuesday in Las Vegas against UALR. I came SO close to heading out there. If it was for a weekend tournament, I’d be booked. Unfortunately, mid-week is not good with work being so busy. Akron also will play Stetson and Miami (Fla.) in the three-day span.
A 9-year-old sung the national anthem. She was better than any adult I’ve heard here, and that’s no insult to the adults. I mean, wow.
Akron’s starters: Zeke Marshall, Alex Abreu, Nik Cvetinovic, Brett McClanahan and Steve McNees. Abreu has been starting since the road game at Detroit. This is his first home start.
B-C is a historically black college in Daytona Beach, Fla. Famous alumni include former Temple coach John Chaney.
Many of Abreu’s turnovers are related to an unfamiliarity with the offense and his teammates. Often, he has tried to lead a player with a pass, and the player didn’t see the pass coming.
B-C got off to a quick 9-4 lead. Akron has already committed three turnovers and is 1-for-4 from the field.
Marshall plays with great animalistic instincts on defense. On offense, he has developed a nice hook and can dunk with fury at times. But mostly, I see him as too mechanical on offense. He takes his hooks shots as if he’s doing a drill. Once he’s decided on a hook, he won’t improvise with a dunk if it’s available. If I’m the coach, I’d ask him to try to dunk the ball 10 times in a game.
Akron has turned it over five times in five minutes. Oops, make that six in six minutes. Oops, now it’s seven in seven minutes.
The internet is down on campus thanks to some digging near Memorial Hall, so I’m blogging into a Microsoft Word document. Not that you really care, but these updates weren’t posted contemporaneously with the game action. It does give me the chance to revise my opinions if it turns out I’m wrong. Sort of like President Obama with the Bush tax cuts.
I haven’t blogged anything in 10 minutes of gametime. The reason is, this game is awfully boring. B-C has maintained between a three- and seven-point lead.
I have a conspiracy theory: The university only chooses kids who have never touched a basketball to shoot for prizes during timeouts. I understand that strategy if you’re giving away a car (for insurance purposes), but not for a sandwich.
Akron is getting minimal first-half production from its guards: Abreu, McNees, Quincy Diggs and Darryl Roberts have combined for zero points.
B-C is running a seven-man rotation. I guess Akron can hope that the mighty Wildcats eventually tire.
The Teddy Bear toss happened at halftime. It’s a unique experience to have dozens of teddy bears sailing over your head. Joe Dunn got drilled by one of the stuffed animals.
This is off-topic, but Jose Canseco is such a trip on Twitter. Last month, he gave out his cell phone number and invited people to call him. Then he asked for other people’s numbers, so he could brighten their day. Now, he’s talking about how some guy hasn’t paid him, and how he wants to sue, and how he wants others to join his suit. I know a few California lawyers, but I wouldn’t wish that client on my worst enemy.
After the first half, Akron trailed 30-23. We did not see McKnight, but I assume the staleness of the offense would quicken his arrival.
The refs missed a blatant over-the-back on B-C. But that’s the least of Akron’s worries. B-C leads a listless Zips squad, 38-24, with 16:36 left.
The trainers are stretching out McKnight in the corner of the arena. Akron needs someone to take over on offense. This is hard to watch.
In the first half, the fans sitting behind me criticized my frantic reaction to the ball heading toward my laptop. Just now, another ball started my way, and I intentionally didn’t move. The referee prevented me from taking the leather in the face. I did it to prove an almost-costly point.
McKnight entered the game to a loud ovation with 15:53 left in the game. That was the loudest Akron’s fans have been all day. Can this be a spark?
Akron is 8-for-17 from the foul line. Five of those misses have been from Marshall (2-of-7).
In the first play since McKnight entered, Akron stole an inbounds pass, Roberts streaked to the rim with the ball and was fouled while laying it in.
B-C is playing at a snail’s pace. The Zips forced a shot-clock violation.
McKnight scored his first bucket in 36 days on a short shot that hung on the back of the rim for a long time. He followed it up on a similar shot out of the post on the next possession.
Folks are still talking about that national anthem singer. They should invite her back.
Akron is within six with the ball. B-C is employing a three-quarters court trap.
Marshall took a hook shot that was well off the mark. Before fans could even realize how badly the shot was off course, Marshall yelled, “It slipped!”
After Diggs missed an early season dunk for a lack of elevation, I have been skeptical of his athleticism. However, he just soared above the herd to clasp an offensive rebound.
Fans are beginning to become testy at the referees. Once you miss a blatant whistle like that over-the-back, it’s hard to win back the fans’ trust.
Abrahams (B-C’s Panzer tank) just entered the game. I’m excited to see him operate. Unfortunately, Marshall is off the floor. That would be a fascinating matchup. Currently, he’s guarding McKnight, which is a bad matchup for B-C.
Over the past five minutes, Akron has chipped away at B-C’s lead, which is now four. But the Zips have not quite made the game-changing shot or prevented B-C from scoring a bucket here or there.
Diggs drained a much-needed 3 to bring Akron back to within four with 1:44 to play. He is playing a little more aggressively than the last I saw him. Still, I’d like to see more shooting and less dribbling with his head down.
B-C broke Akron’s press and got an easy layup. Abreu responded with a 3. Akron is down three with 1:19 to go.
Akron forced a turnover when a B-C player stepped on the sideline to catch a pass.
McNees is having an awful game, 0-for-10 from the field and 0-for-7 on 3s.
McClanahan tied the game by sinking a deep, high-arching 3. B-C called timeout with 40 seconds left. There are 24 seconds left on the shot clock and 30 on the game clock.
Regardless of the outcome today, Akron will have to play a lot better in MAC season. We are watching a middle-of-the-pack MAC team.
B-C held the ball until six seconds remained on the clock. Diggs played great defense on Reed, who misfired from 12 feet. Diggs soared high for the rebound but it got poked out. The jump ball went to the Zips.
Akron will get the chance to win with 3.3 seconds left. Unlike in the NBA after a timeout, a college team must go the full length of the floor.
Cvetinovic inbounded to Marshall, who handed it off to McNees. McNees could only get to half court before having to chuck it. The shot missed off the bottom left corner of the backboard. We’re going to overtime.
Marshall is worth an extra possession in overtime. He won’t lose many tips.
Marshall just got away with a misdemeanor. He slung a B-C player aside in grabbing an offensive rebound. Marshall converted a reverse layup to give Akron a three-point lead.
McNees picked a good time to defrost. He splashed a 3 from the corner, giving Akron a six-point lead with three minutes left.
McClanahan made a 3-pointer on the next possession, falling backward into the Zips’ bench. Akron leads by eight with 2:23 left.
Akron turned the ball over at the two-minute mark. Cvetinovic tried to drive through a triple-team trap. It didn’t end well for him. It earned a foot stomp from Dambrot. Reed made a short jumper on the other end for B-C to bring Akron’s lead down to five with 1:51 left.
It’s clear that the turning point tonight was McKnight’s entrance in the second half. The team and its fans looked hung over until then. McKnight gave the team a lift with his six points and two rebounds.
The game is now sealed, with McNees taking down a rebound, getting fouled and sinking two free throws. Akron is up nine with 30 seconds left.
Marshall punctuated the game with a reverse dunk after a breakaway pass.
Final score: Akron 77, Bethune-Cookman 66
Final stats of note: Cvetinovic led Akron with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and four rebounds. The last Zips player to have back-to-back double-doubles was Jeremiah Wood in February 2007. Akron shot 46.9 percent, compared to 41.4 percent from B-C. Alexander Starling led B-C with 19 points. The Zips finished with only 11 turnovers, after committing nine in the first half.
I can’t stick around for quotes. We have a city council meeting scheduled for 5:15. I know, it doesn’t make sense to me, either.
Coach Caleb Porter might have one of the longest employment contracts in the nation right now.
This week, the university extended his deal into the next decade, in what is a show of commitment to the national championship-winning coach.
In coaching contracts, the university is the only party at risk. Generally, the coach can bolt tomorrow if he pleases, but the university is stuck with him if things turn south (or fire him and pay through the end of the term). Regardless, Porter's public statements provide hope that Akron is not just a career stop.
From the GoZips.com release:
The University of Akron men's soccer team is mentioned in this week's Sports Illustrated on page 35 in the "For the Record" section of the magazine.
The brief story mentions the Zips 1-0 victory over Louisville in the NCAA College Cup on Sunday in Santa Barbara, Calif. There is a photo with the story, that includes the goal by Scott Caldwell in the 79th minute and the shutout in net by goalkeeper David Meves. It is interesting to note, that they did not mention Chad Barson, who made the key save in the final minute.
The SI, dated Dec. 20, features a photo of actors Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale on the cover. Wahlberg and Bale star in a new boxing film, The Fighter.
As many of you know by now, there are a lot of stories on the Internet about the Zips winning the national title. You can find articles by the Associated Press, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Canton Repository and obviously the Akron Beacon Journal.
Also, there will be more UA men's soccer videos that will appear on this blog within the next few weeks.
The Zips led the nation's 20th best team by five at halftime.
Minnesota closed the gap, went on an 8-0 run and never looked back, winning 66-58.
Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe and Akron's Nik Cvetinovic each had double-doubles. It's nearly impossible to beat a top team on the road shooting 34.9 percent like Akron did.
The Zips return home Saturday for a 2 p.m. game against Bethune-Cookman.
Take a look at these photos from the national championship game that the athletic department posted.
I don't know when it will sink in that we won. Still hasn't.
Akron will play another tough road game Wednesday against Minnesota.
The game will be aired at 8:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
Without senior point guard Al Nolen (stress fracture), the Gophers have struggled to play perimeter defense. But the Zips have shot 33.6 percent in their last two games.
Here is CBSSports.com's preview. Akron is a 15-point underdog. (I'd take the Gophers with that stingy line.)
There are 179 stories on Google News as of 8 a.m. regarding Akron's national championship. Here are a few to read:
-- The ABJ's Michael Beaven describes the atmosphere at the Barley House. -- The ABJ's Marla Ridenour writes about Caleb Porter's commitments to jump in the ocean and streak his hair like Anthony Ampaipitakwong, as well as the possibility that this title breaks the ice for future success. -- The Kalamazoo Gazette spoke with Porter's high school coach of whether he envisioned Porter becoming a coach himself. The answer: No. -- Here is the Associated Press story, as printed in the Washington Post. -- Probably the story I liked most was on ESPN.com, which quoted Porter as saying this:
Akron won its first national championship
Concluding the third year of dominance of the soccer world, the Zips climbed the last rung of the ladder and earned the university's first team national championship. It was a team that brought the community together and deserves to celebrate its great feat.
Now it's time to be realistic. Akron won the title in a game, and an NCAA Tournament, in which the team received some serious luck.
The Zips executed two improbable foot saves in the last minute -- one by David Meves, and the other by Chad Barson, who just happened to be positioned between Louisville's striker and the back of the net and whose foot just happened to deflect a point-blank goal opportunity.
The game's lone goal was off a scramble following a corner kick. The ball found Scott Caldwell, who had the national championship goal fed to him on a platter. Unlike Louisville's striker, Caldwell deposited the ball into the net.
Louisville missed out on two sure-fire opportunities in the first half. One ball bounced off the post. On the other, the refs missed a hand-ball call in the box.
But Akron is the last team that needs to apologize for its good fortune. This team, this program, and these fans deserve it. For the past three years, Akron has been the undisputed best team in the nation, only to be screwed by NCAA or lose on penalty kicks.
And this is also a victory for a principled coach. Unlike Caleb Porter, Ken Lolla left the University of Akron, his players and its fans for more money. Porter turned down an offer to be a professional head coach to stay at Akron. He was rewarded by a victory over a predecessor who took his talents to Louisville.
It might take a while for this to sink in. The first step of that for me was when my dad (mostly ignorant on college sports, but an Akron grad) asked: "So wait. Louisville is Division One?" Me: "Yes." Dad: "So all the other teams like Ohio State and UCLA are gone?"
It is an illustration of what this could mean to our alumni if properly publicized. Why support a bigger university when, if receiving adequate support, YOUR alma mater can do great things? Hats off to the AK-Rowdies who traveled to Santa Barbara, Calif., on what much be, in many cases, meager budgets.
Fans should treasure tonight because, even if Porter stays for another 10 years and even if the team retains its dominance, winning a national championship in soccer must be one of the most luck-driven accomplishments in college sports. Once you get to the last few rounds, playing an error-free game takes a higher priority. It's that rare moment where a defender loses focus that a forward can sneak past and change the history of his soccer program.
Cherish this because it could have been different.
Cherish this because it HAS BEEN different in the past. Do you remember picking your jaw off the floor when Blair Gavin's penalty kick sailed over the net a year ago? Or when the NCAA stole Akron's home-pitch advantage, providing Northwestern a big advantage?
Cherish this because it is a great accomplishment for Porter, a fantastic leader with off-the-charts character, charisma and perseverance.
In the next few days, a lot of University of Akron alumni will be chatting about this great achievement over the water cooler. If you are one of those casual fans, take this opportunity to step to the next level. Bookmark this blog, and ZipsNation.org (the unofficial message boards), and GoZips.com (the official university site) to keep up on the daily news.
Fans support is one area where the University of Akron lacks. With the hundreds of thousands of local alumni, it doesn't have to be that way.
Stay tuned for more news from Marla Ridenour in Santa Barbara and Michael Beaven at the celebration downtown.
Akron and Louisville are tied at 0 at halftime.
The Cardinals have had the two best opportunities to score, however. One shot bounced off the right post. On another play, Chris Korb used his hand to redirect a blocked shot in the box. It should have been a penalty kick for Louisville, but the ref missed the handball call.
Stay tuned to Marla Ridenour's blog and this blog for coverage after the game. Marla is out in California. Also, Michael Beaven is reporting from the Barley House, where a great deal of fans are gathered to watch.
Akron lost by 35 today at Temple.
The Owls shot 56 percent, compared to 30 percent from the Zips, who were led by Steve McNees and Alex Abreu (11 points each).
Akron has another tough game on Wednesday at Minnesota (8:30 p.m., Big Ten Network) before returning home Saturday at 2 p.m. to play Bethune-Cookman.
Please keep refreshing for updates
Division I NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament -- College Cup -- Quarterfinal from Santa Babara, Calif.
The University of Akron Zips vs. the University of Michigan Wolverines
UA (20-1-2) is the No. 3 seed and UM (17-4-3) is the No. 10 seed.
UA Starting Lineup
Goalkeeper: Sophomore David Meves.
Defenders: Senior Chris Korb, junior Kofi Sarkodie, sophomore Zarek Valentin and sophomore Chad Barson.
Midfielders: Senior Anthony Ampaipitakwong, junior Michael Nanchoff, sophomore Scott Caldwell and freshman Perry Kitchen.
Forwards: Junior Darlington Nagbe and freshman Darren Mattocks.
No. 1 seed Louisville defeated No. 4 seed North Carolina 2-1 in the other semifinal.
MICHIGAN 1-0 Senior Justin Meram scored a goal in the second minute from about 20 yards out to give Michigan a 1-0 lead over Akron.
Michael Nanchoff and Darren Mattocks have had the Zips best scoring chances in the first half. Nanchoff took a shot from the left side, that went wide right of the goal. Mattocks took a shot from the right side that was saved by Wolverines junior goalkeeper Chris Blais.
Darren Mattocks tried a header from the middle of the box that went wdie right.
Michael Nanchoff tried a kick that went wide right.
The score is tied 1-1 Perry Kitchen scored a goal with a right-footed kick from about 30 to 35 yard away in the 33rd minute.
Anthony Ampaipitakwong headed the ball to Chris Blais for a save. Michael Nanchoff sent in a nice pass to start the play.
Kofi Sarkodie just got a yellow card on a tackle attempt.
Scott Caldwell attempted a header that Chris Blais slapped away.
Darlington Nagbe looks a little shaken up and is limping a little bit.
The score is tied 1-1 at halftime
First Half Insight
Akron is dominating possession on a consistent basis. Michigan's best scoring chance ended in Meram's goal. The Zips have had about a handful of scoring chances, with Kitchen's shot resulting in a goal. UA holds an advantage in shots (14-4), shots on goal (5-1) and corner kicks (4-0).
Michigan freshman Soony Saad took a shot over the goal.
The Wolverines just got their first corner kick.
Zips sophomore Ben Speas enters the lineup as a reserve. He replaces Darren Mattocks.
Kofi Sarkodie tried a header in attempt to score a goal, but the ball barely glanced off his head.
Kofi Sarkodie and Wolverines senior Chase Tennant collided with 29:29 to go in the second half as both slid to try and win possession of the ball. Each took a moment to gather themselves and return to action.
Soony Saad took a shot that went past David Meves and hit the right post. Perry Kitchen cleared the ball away.
Darlington Nagbe tried a header that Chris Blais saved.
AKRON 2-1 Kofi Sarkodie scores a goal with a header just yards away from the goal with 73rd minute of the match. Michael Nanchoff started the play with a free kick from the right side.
Scott Caldwell drew the foul to get the Zips the free kick.
Michigan freshman Fabio Pereira Villas Boas gets a yellow card about a minute later.
Junior Michael Balogun enters the Zips lineup as a reserve. He replaces Michael Nanchoff.
Darren Mattocks is back in the match, replacing Ben Speas.
Darren Mattocks just tried a shot that missed the goal wide right.
AKRON WINS 2-1
Final Statistics -- The Zips (21-1-2) held an advantage over the Wolverines (17-5-3) in shots (22-9), shots on goal (8-1) and corner kicks (6-2).
Akron will meet Louisville in the national championship match on Sunday at 4 p.m.
Refresh your browser for updates...
The winner of this game will play Michigan on Friday in the national semifinals. They beat Maryland 3-2 in double-overtime. North Carolina has also clinched a spot in the College Cup, as will the winner of Louisville vs. UCLA which starts at 7 tonight. Because the College Cup is in Santa Barbara, Calif., the games will be on Western Coast time. They will start at either 8:30 p.m. or 11 p.m.
I've got the Akron basketball game on in another internet window. You can do it, too. Click here for the video feed of Zips vs. UIC.
This new press box is quite nice. The structure underneath does not look too sturdy, but it's a warm, spacious area, conducive for media to get their work done.
Cal has a small rooting section by the Bears' bench. Maybe 20 people. Berkeley is about five hours away from Santa Barbara, so the Bears will probably expect more fans if the team advances to the College Cup.
Cal got the first scoring chance on a kick from about 18 yards that sailed high. Akron responded with a header from about five yards away. The UC goalkeeper grabbed it.
Midway through the first half, Akron and Cal have had equal opportunities and near-goals. The Zips have been crisper with their passes and made fewer mistakes in that regard.
Akron got a corner kick after a Cal player smoked the ball out of bounds, right at an AK-Rowdy.
Cal's Anthony Avalos scored on a lob pass from Ted Jones over the Zips' defense with 14:45 left in the first half. It is the first time Akron has trailed at home this year.
That's only Avalos' second goal this season. He found a way to sneak behind the entire Zips defense.
This is the seventh time Akron has trailed in any game, anywhere, since the beginning of last season.
The Zips tied it up on a Michael Nanchoff screamer from outside the box with 4:27 left in the first half.
The snow is picking up a little. I think the NCAA should move this game to Berkeley. You know, just to be safe.
One of the referees just walked off the field, delaying the game for a few minutes.
Just 27 seconds later, Akron took the lead. The Zips got big numbers charging down the pitch. Darlington Nagbe passed to Anthony Ampaipitawkong, who drew the defense and fed Scott Caldwell for an easy goal.
OK. Here is the unofficial word about the referee. The head referee and the linesman were alleged to be arguing. The linesman marched off the field, taking his flag. The game was delayed while the impromptu lineman searched for a backup flag. I can't vouch for this being 100 percent accurate, but it's some version of the truth. Only in soccer.
Halftime stats: Akron leads Cal in shots, nine to six, and shots on goal, five to two. Both teams have had four corner kicks. Cal has committed 11 fouls, compared to Akron's two.
Update on the referee drama: Caleb Porter was arguing nonstop with the guy who eventually split. Before leaving, the linesman told the head referee that, "Either he [Porter] is leaving, or I'm leaving." As a result, the linesman has left Lee Jackson Field, and he took his flag with him.
The basketball team is losing 32-20 at halftime against UIC. The Zips are 1-for-11 on 3-point attempts.
We are going to get an official explanation from what happened with this linesman after the game.
There hasn't been much activity in the first nine minutes of the second half.
No sooner I type that... Tony Salciccia scores Cal's second goal, tying the game. The goal was actually a product of a wonderful save by David Meves. He dove and stopped a speeding shot, and Salciccia quickly chipped the change into the back of the net.
Akron is 65-0-1 when the team scores two or more goals in Porter's tenure. The only tie was this year against Ohio State.
Since tying the game, Cal has better controlled the ball.
Servando Carrasco nearly scored on a bicycle kick. I have never seen one of those in person, but it was pretty cool.
If the Zips win tonight, they will feel pretty good about their semifinal game against Michigan, whom the Zips beat 7-1 on Oct. 19. Kofi Sarkodie had a hat trick.
The Zips, of course, have to win tonight. I'd say Cal has outplayed Akron in the first 20 minutes of the second half.
I'm done making observations... Perry Kitchen split the Cal defense with some nifty footwork and retook the lead for Akron with a 20-yard shot off the post. Akron leads 3-2 with 14:19 left.
Attendance is 3,442. The fans are getting behind the team, now that the victory is in sight. Less than 10 minutes separate Akron from its second-straight College Cup.
Brett McClanahan tied the basketball game with a late 3. Unfortunately, the video feed doesn't have a clock.
Cal retied the game with a close shot from John Fitzpatrick. He received a lob pass over everyone that could not have been placed any better. Only one minute left in the second half.
Akron nearly scored as the clock expired. We are going to a 10 minute overtime, and then another 10 minute overtime if necessary. We are all aware of the penalty kick procedure.
The basketball team ended up winning 54-52.
This is Cal's 11th overtime game this season. Akron has played in overtime twice.
Darren Mattocks nearly ended the game. His shot from straight-on in the box was wide right.
Mattocks had another close shot that the goalie appeared to block with his face. It's an injury timeout with 34 seconds left in overtime. Akron will have a corner kick once David Bingham recovers.
First overtime concluded without a winner. We have a two-minute break before trying it again.
Cal is stalling in setting up a goal kick. One can only conclude that the Bears are content to let penalty kicks determine the season.
Cal's goalie got a hand on a Nagbe shot that appeared destined to end the game. Akron got a corner kick out of it, which the goalie nabbed.
In an exciting, yet fruitless, series, Akron had two near-scores. Caldwell's shot was blocked. Ampaipitakwong's follow-up was blocked.
The game is going to penalty kicks, so there will be no official winner tonight. But someone is playing Michigan on Friday.
As you remember from last December, it's the best of five kicks. The teams alternate. That's pretty much it.
They're setting the kicks up for the side of the field opposite the AK-Rowdies. That helps Cal quite a bit.
1a) Hector Jimenez kicked first for Cal and missed wide left. 1b) Nanchoff's kick was blocked.
Akron 0, Cal 0
2a) A.J. Soares, a Hermann Trophy finalist, scored with a roller to the left. 2b) Kitchen went top-right shelf to tie it up.
Akron 1, Cal 1
3a) Carrasco aimed right at Meves' neck, and the Zips goalie stopped it. 3b) Zarek Valentin drilled the top-right corner of the net.
Akron 2, Cal 1
4a) Meves blocked another Cal shot from Davis Paul, the Bears' leading scorer. 4b) Caldwell missed wide left.
Akron 2, Cal 1
5a) Meves got a hand on Avalos' shot, but it still went in. 5b) Sarkodie has a potential game-winner to shoot. Bingham got a hand on the ball, but it still went in.
PK final tally: Akron 3, Cal 2.
The Zips will advance to the College Cup! The fans are going nuts. What an amazing game!
Akron will have a send-off party for the team on Tuesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Stile Field House.
Akron matched the NCAA record for home unbeaten streak with 39 games.
Penalty Kicks - Akron 3, California 3. ZIPS ADVANCE
Akron tightened up on defense and shot 56 percent in the second half to close out a 77-69 win at Detroit.
Nik Cvetinovic led Akron tonight. He had 18 points, seven rebounds and four steals. The Titans had a difficult time with 20 turnovers.
The Zips continue their Horizon League tour, stopping next at Illinois-Chicago for a 4 p.m. game on Saturday. It will be their fourth consecutive game against a foe from the Horizon League.
Shawn Lemon is Akron's only player on the All-MAC teams, earning Second-Team honors.
I'm a little surprised that Brian Wagner did not get any recognition, but when you're 1-11, you can't complain. Wagner was fourth in the league in tackles.
Miami and Northern Illinois will play Friday at 7 p.m. for the MAC Championship.
I plan to liveblog from the Elite Eight game on Saturday at 4 p.m. against Cal.
Be prepared for my awesome grasp on soccer terminology.
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