Hello Akron Zips Fans, this is Michael Beaven filling in for Mike Rasor.
The University of Akron men's soccer team and Hartwick played to a 1-1 after 90 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime on Friday night in a Mid-American Conference semfinal match.
The host Zips then prevailed in the penalty kick shootout, winning the round 3-0 at Lee Jackson Field. UA (16-1-3) will host Northern Illinois (11-5-4) in the final at 2 p.m. Sunday.
UA, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, won behind an outstanding performance by senior goalkeeper Evan Bush in the shootout.
"This time of year, it is all about moving on and getting the result," UA coach Caleb Porter said. "I think what we take from this game is we have to finish our chances."
Sophomore forward Steve Zakuani, the MAC Player of the Year, senior midfielder Matt Tutich and junior forward Stefan Ostergren each scored in the shootout for the Zips, who are ranked No. 5 in the RPI, No. 4 in the NSCAA/adidas poll and No. 3 in the Soccer America poll.
"We've been practicing all week on penalty kicks," Ostergren, a North Canton Hoover graduate, said of the shots from 12 yards away from the goal. "It was an amazing feeling to win. We're a team and we win as a team."
Bush blocked all three of the Hawks' (7-6-6) attempts in the shootout for the dramatic win.
"I can't say enough about Evan Bush," Porter said. "He is one of the best goalkeepers in the country and he is always there to make a big play. We needed him to make those big plays and he did. That's a credit to his hard work and his focus."
Bush batted away all three shots with dives to the ground.
"I had no real inside tips," Bush said while winking his right eye. "I just went the right way on all of them. There is not much you can do about penalty kicks. You either go the right way or you don't. You either make a save or you don't. Sometimes you have to pull a rabbit out of a hat."
Hartwick, ranked No. 72 in the RPI and the fourth-seed in the tournament, took a 1-0 lead with 10:26 remaining in the second half on a goal by sophomore midfielder Wilber Bonilla, who scored his first of the season after a deflection from about 6 yards away.
UA sophomore defender Chris Korb scored the equalizer with 3:43 left in the second half.
Korb's goal, the first of his collegiate career, came off of a deflection from about 12 yards away on the right side of the box.
"Our team flipped the switch there after they scored and we showed what we could really do," said Korb, a Xavier transfer.
The goal lifted the Zips' confidence and play became more spirited on both sides.
"I don't know many teams that could have given up a goal late and responded like they did," Porter said. "This team just knows when to turn it up a notch and they know how to win."
The Zips' defense -- which consisted of Bush, Korb, freshman Kofi Sarkodie and redshirt freshmen Aaron Henkle and Matt Dagilis (Firestone) -- played effectively.
"Our defense, I thought played very well today and I think our attack created a lot of chances,’’ Porter said. ‘‘We just needed to finish more."
Hartwick held a 5-4 advantage in shots on goal, but UA held a 18-12 advantage in total shots.
"It's funny," Bush said. "Our team, we don't panic when we get down. We get upbeat. We have got to find a way to do that before we're down a goal."
Second-seeded NIU defeated third-seeded Buffalo (12-4-4) 1-0 in Friday's first semifinal.
For the complete story in Saturday's edition of the Akron Beacon Journal please read it in print or visit ohio.com.
Here are some other links to recent soccer stories:
Steve Zakuani feature: http://www.ohio.com/sports/zips/34381389.html
Zips soccer team wins major MAC awards: http://www.ohio.com/sports/zips/34405769.html