I apologize for not posting sooner. It's exam week, and that generally drains my time.
I did, however, attend yesterday's game. Some thoughts...
It's amazing what a nationally prominent team can do to attract fans. The university constructed an entirely new set of bleachers on the west end of the field to accommodate more fans. A total of 4,254 showed up. Soccer has the unique ability to play its tournament at home sites until the College Cup, which give home fans the ability to see their team up until the national semifinals. That is a big reason for these sell-outs, but let's remember that the Zips were stuffing Lee Jackson Field from the beginning of the season.
The Zips were very fortunate to hang onto their lead at the end. Tulsa was attacking furiously late in the game. Akron's defense was still stalwart, but not quite as sharp. Let's not forget, it takes luck along the way for any team to win a championship -- even if they are the most talented.
That was one of the five coldest sporting events I've attended. That is a definite advantage during the NCAA Tournament, particularly against teams like Stanford, South Florida and Tulsa. It's true the adrenaline keeps you warm for awhile, but toes, fingers and joints lock up for everyone equally. It's the team that is accustomed to it that can better deal with it.
I am very impressed with the AK-Rowdies. We complain about fan support for Akron athletics, but I would be stunned to see another student section in the nation as fervent as the Zips'. If Caleb Porter stays at Akron, the Rowdies probably will have something to do with it. They provide a unique asset. Soccer is "cool" at Akron.
GoZips.com has a great information page with everything a fan wants to know about the College Cup. Michael Beaven will also keep you updated on this blog as the week goes on.
Akron's staunch defense kept the Zips close with No. 19 Texas A&M on Friday night. Poor shooting nights from Brett McKnight (3-for-12) and Humpty Hitchens (1-for-10) kept the Zips from pulling out a win.
Texas A&M won, 74-62.
The Zips will play NAIA opponent Malone on Saturday at 7 p.m. at home. It starts a string of five-consecutive home games.