The No. 1 ranked University of Akron men's soccer team will host VCU at 7:30 tonight in an exhibition match at newly renovated Lee Jackson Field.
The Zips are the top-ranked team in the country according to polls conducted by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and College Soccer News. UA posted a 23-1-1 record last season and finished national runner-up to Virginia.
UA returns eight of 11 starters – including Hermann Trophy candidates Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Darlington Nagbe and Kofi Sarkodie. Ampaipitakwong is senior midfielder, Nagbe is a junior forward and Sarkodie is a junior defender.
Ampaipitakwong, Sarkodie and junior midfielder Michael Nanchoff are tri-captains this season for coach Caleb Porter.
Nagbe is the team's top returning goal scorer from a year ago after netting 10 in 2009. Ampaipitakwong, contributed eight goals and five assists last season. Sarkodie, senior Chris Korb and sophomores Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson are also back for a defense that played in front of sophomore goalkeeper David Meves and recorded 19 shutouts in 25 matches, the second-highest, single-season total in NCAA history. The unit’s goals-against-average (0.27) and shutout percentage (.760) were third all-time.
Sophomore midfielders Ben Speas and Scott Caldwell, and junior defender Matt Dagilis should also see playing time.
The Zips 2010 recruiting class is ranked No. 2 in the country, according to College Soccer News. The recruits are junior Michael Balogun and freshmen Reinaldo Brenes, Richard Diaz, Gabe Genovesi, Perry Kitchen, Darren Mattocks, Andrian McAdams, Martin Ontiveros and McKauly Tulloch.
Former Zips now Rams
VCU is located in Richmond, Vga. The Rams are led by first-year head coach Dave Giffard, who spent the previous four seasons as an assistant on Porter’s staff.
The Rams’ roster features two former Zips, junior goalkeeper Josh Pantazelos and sophomore forward Yoram Mwila.