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No. 1 Zips five wins from national title

By Michael Beaven Published: November 16, 2009

Here are some additional details on the University of Akron men’s soccer team after the Zips earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament:
University of Akron coach Caleb Porter
Said to the Zips players at the Barley House: “Congratulations on getting the No. 1 seed. You're 20-0, but now you're 0-0 and the real season begins.”
On earning the No. 1 overall seed: “We're very excited. This is what we wanted and what we've worked hard for all year long. Our vision when we started this journey three months ago was to win the national championship. In order to do that, you have to put yourself in the best position possible going into the NCAA Tournament.”
On his players: “Our players have dug deep all year and they have learned lessons, which are important. They're battle tested and they got results. Now the fun starts. This is what we have prepared for and what we have been waiting for. It's a new season.”
Zips senior co-captain Ben Zemanski
On the bracket and the possibility of playing South Florida and Northwestern: “We definitely like our bracket. We like being No. 1. We expected it. I think were not looking for redemption per say, we're looking for one thing and that is to win a national championship. If they happen to be in our way, we'll be happy to take them down.”
Zips junior co-captain Blair Gavin
On receiving the No. 1 overall seed: “I was happy to get the No. 1 seed after all the hard work and effort we have put in everyday to win each and every game. I thought we are a deserving team. We have to win five games to win the national championship. Being No. 1 before the tournament is nice, but being No. 1 in the end is what we are looking for.”
- UA (20-0-0) earned a bye past the first round and will host the winner of Stetson (14-3-2) at South Florida (13-3-3) in the second round on Sunday at 4 p.m. at Lee Jackson Field.
- The Zips grabbing the top seed was not shocking because they are ranked No. 1 in the country in all five national polls and the RPI. Virginia (14-3-3), Wake Forest (14-3-3) and Ohio State (12-4-4) received the second through fourth seeds.
- North Carolina (13-2-3), UCLA (10-3-4), Penn State (12-7-2) and Tulsa (13-4-2) earned the fifth through eighth seeds.
- UA defeated six of the teams in the tournament — OSU, Tulsa, Penn State, Michigan State, Indiana and St. Louis — in the regular season before winning Mid-American Conference regular season and tournament titles.
- South Florida and Northwestern (10-4-4) are both on UA's side of the bracket. South Florida ended the Zips season in 2007 and Northwestern did so in 2008.
- This is the highest seed UA has received and the fifth time the Zips have been seeded. The Zips were seeded No. 15 in 2003, No. 9 in 2005, No. 14 in 2007 and No. 5 in 2008.
- UA could possibly host three games (Nov. 22 and 29 and Dec. 5) through the quarterfinal round. If they win those games, they would advance to the College Cup (Final Four) at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. The national semifinals are Dec. 11 and the national final is Dec. 13.
- The Zips have qualified for the NCAA Tournament 24 times since the program started in 1955. UA lost to Duke 1-0 in the 1986 championship game, made the Elite Eight in 2005 and reached the Sweet 16 in 2008.
- The 20 wins are a school record and represent the fourth-longest winning streak in a single season. UA is also trying to become the first team in 35 years to win a national championship with a perfect record. Howard went 19-0-0 and won the title in 1974 to become the sixth team to accomplish the feat.
Check out my UA men's soccer stories in the Akron Beacon Journal and on from Friday through today. Also, some past stories can still be found on the website.

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