Football, Men's soccer
Here's today's Rasor's Edge...
What a weekend!
Since the last issue of the Buchtelite, the soccer team has progressed from the Round of 32 to the Elite Eight. Since Nov. 22, the football team's bowl chances went from life support to stable condition.
The games over Thanksgiving weekend turned this season into the most successful sports season in University of Akron history.
Men's soccer could become the university's first national champion.
Although the team has never won the NCAA Tournament, it has come close. The team's greatest success came in 1986 when the Zips lost to Duke in the National Championship game, 1-0. The trail of success goes further back. The Zips were ranked No. 10 nationally in 1975.
Since entering the MAC in 1993, Akron soccer has won eight regular-season conference titles and six NCAA Tournament berths. And once they got there, it hasn't always been one and done. Two years ago, Akron advanced to the Round of 16 in the 2003 NCAA Tournament before losing to No. 2 Maryland, 1-0.
Have you heard who Akron is playing on Saturday? It's Maryland. You better believe seniors Ross McKenzie, Dino Campellone and Yohann Mauger remember the painful loss to Maryland.
Akron had a great chance to tie that game in 2003. Mauger, a sophomore at the time, drilled the crossbar from 30 yards away in the second half. But it's hard to win while being outshot 16-4, like Akron was.
Campellone, a midfielder, watched that game from the sidelines. On Saturday, he will be active in reversing that statistic with the Zips' incredible ball control and passing. And McKenzie, the Charlie Frye of the soccer team, will do anything to keep his final season alive. The only suitable end to his UA career will be raising the MVP trophy while coach Ken Lolla stands by with the national championship plaque.
The payback will not be easy. Akron is better than Maryland, but the teams will play on the Terps' turf. Their fans will be crazy. The Zips will need support as well.
That is why the athletic department is paying for 100 students to take a bus ride to Maryland for the game. As of Monday evening, 25 tickets remained. If you are lucky enough to be reading this early on Tuesday, run by the Rhodes Arena ticket office or call 1-888-99-AKRON.
Besides, what else is there to do Saturday between 4 a.m. and 11 p.m.?
Also, thanks to last week's games, the football team will have a chance to play in Akron's first bowl game in over 30 years and first since becoming a Division I-A program in 1987.
The football team lacks the history of success that men's soccer has. That makes the Mid-American Conference Championship against Northern Illinois even more important. If Akron wins, it will establish the Zips in Division I-A, which Akron hasn't done since coming from Division I-AA in 1987.
Frye is probably the only thing college football fans and high school recruits know about Akron football. A bowl berth the year after Frye graduates would mean the program is improving despite losing the best player in school history.
Also, winning the game will allow coach J.D. Brookhart to say the Zips have played four games on national television. That is almost as many as some Big 10 teams.
Brookhart is already an outstanding recruiter. You can bet he will milk every minute of exposure.
The university also is offering free transportation and tickets to students for Thursday's game in Detroit. The bus will leave at noon. Follow the same instructions as with soccer to take advantage of this offer. As of Monday night, 600 bus seats and tickets were available.
The Zips beat Northern Illinois in overtime at the Rubber Bowl earlier this year. Experts don't expect a repeat. Danny Sheridan from USA Today says Northern Illinois is a 13-point favorite over Akron. But if the Zips defense shuts down running back Garrett Wolfe like it did earlier this year, Akron can win.
This weekend will be an exciting time to be a Zips fan. Make sure you're there.
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