The Zips lost today 1-0 in Evanston despite doubling the Wildcats' shots on goal (14 to seven).
The game-winning goal came on a defensive slip-up.
Northwestern's Jack Hillgard received a pass from the sideline. He lobbed it over Akron's defense to Geoff Fallon, who did not have a defender between himself and Akron goalie Evan Bush. It was the 61st minute when Fallon pumped the ball into the right corner of the net.
I really thought Akron would have enough motivation heading into today's game to carry it back to Lee Jackson Field for the Elite Eight. The Zips just never got a good enough look on those 14 shots.
It's sad that such a great season would end with the taint of impropriety -- that a higher seed loses its home-field advantage because of speculation about field conditions four days ahead of the fact.
Coach J.D. Brookhart does not need my support, but I feel it is necessary to explain my opinions to rebut his critics.
To clarify, I am a critic, too. I think the personnel decisions and defensive scheme are major problems. However, here are 10 reasons to keep him for 2009 (in reverse order of importance).
A wealth of errors and inconsistency on offense ended Akron's season as the Zips lost 27-6 at Temple.
Chris Jacquemain threw three interceptions. The running game only mustered 17 yards in the first half. The special teams units failed to cash in on opportunities, as well.
Rather than finishing at .500 and perhaps getting a phone call for a bowl opportunity, the Zips' season ended like the last two -- with disappointment and loser's fatigue.
I will have grades tomorrow.
Mack Rhoades and Caleb Porter spoke out regarding the Northwestern screw-job.
Rhoades, like me, was upset about the process in which the NCAA decided, without giving Akron a chance to fix the field.
However, the university is chartering two buses for the trip to Evanston. Non-students can catch a free ride. Students get a free ride, ticket and meal. Kudos to the athletic department for making the most of a bad situation.
Read the full press release after the jump. ___________ AKRON, Ohio – Despite being awarded the fifth-highest seed in the country and winning its second-round game against Ohio State Wednesday, the NCAA Men’s Soccer Committee recently ruled that the University of Akron men’s soccer team will travel to unseeded Northwestern for its third round match-up in the NCAA Tournament.
The University of Akron is currently organizing fan buses to Northwestern for Sunday’s match. The only cost to the fan will be the price of the game ticket and food. Further details regarding the bus schedule, eating arrangements and more will be posted on GoZips.com as soon as they are finalized.
“I am very disappointed that as the No. 5 seed, we have to travel to Northwestern,” said UA head coach Caleb Porter. “However, we will make the best of this situation and prepare to face a very tough Northwestern squad. Our players will face this challenge head on in hopes of getting back home to Lee Jackson Field for the quarterfinals. This team is on a mission and having to play on the road is not going to change that.”
With a top eight seed, the Zips (17-1-4) earned the privilege of a first-round bye in the NCAA Tournament and at least two home games. But after No. 4 seed Michigan State’s loss to Chicago-Illinois in the second round, UA was granted the advantage of hosting all the way through the quarterfinals.
“I am very disappointed for our student-athletes who worked so hard to achieve the number five overall seed and our great fans who supported this team in grand fashion throughout the year,” said UA director of athletics Mack Rhoades. “Equally disappointing is the process in which this decision was finalized.
“I support the NCAA and its commitment to the greater well-being of all participating student-athletes. I do not believe we were provided a fair opportunity to prepare and/or analyze the readiness of our field for Sunday's match. We have a wonderful grounds crew who worked tirelessly to prepare the field for Tuesday's match however weather and time were not on their side. I liked our chances to have provided a safe playing surface for Sunday.
“We have notified the NCAA our field will be ready in the event we beat a very good Northwestern team," Rhoades added. "Special thanks to all our fans who have contacted the athletics department these past 24 hours in support of our men's soccer program. We do have plans in place for a new soccer facility and look forward to the time when this can be a reality.”
An abundance of precipitation, mixed in with harsh winter weather conditions, made the surface of Lee Jackson Field unplayable for Tuesday’s originally scheduled second round match-up with Ohio State. As a result, the game was postponed to Wednesday and the site was moved to the field turf stadium at nearby St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.
The announcement by the NCAA committee that Sunday’s third-round match-up between Akron and Northwestern will be played in Evanston, Ill., was made following UA’s 1-0 double overtime victory over OSU Wednesday and was based on the possibility that the surface of Lee Jackson Field would not be playable.
According to NCAA regulations in place for the soccer championships, if it is determined in advance that a match cannot be played at the higher seed’s home field, the site must be moved to the other participating school’s home field.
Sunday’s game will begin at 2 p.m. (EST). Follow the action on-line by clicking here.
Coach Caleb Porter is prepared to travel to Evanston.
The coach asked that GoZips.com remove a sentence that said Akron would play at Northwestern so he could tell his team the bad news personally, according to Paul Warner from media relations.
Earlier I reported that Akron had a couple days to fix up Lee Jackson Field before a final decision of whether the NCAA would strip the Zips of home-field advantage. Warner told the ABJ's Michael Beaven that is possible, but he had not heard such news.
Warner added that Porter might appeal to the NCAA in the next couple days. However, this is a holiday weekend, so who knows how effective that will be.
While all of this confusion is hashed out, check out a video of today's game-winning goal.
According to two official Web sites, Akron will play its third-round match against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., rather than Akron.
A source tells me that is premature.
My source tells me that the NCAA intended to move the game to Evanston if Akron officials concluded that Lee Jackson Field would not be playable. An Akron official, perhaps unaware of that, deemed the field to be unplayable prematurely. Apparently, that is cleared up, and Akron will have until Friday to work on the field. The weather is supposed to improve, so that seems likely.
NUSports.com, Northwestern's official site, says the teams will play at Northwestern at 1 p.m. Sunday (2 p.m. Eastern). The bracket on NCAASports.com similarly states that the higher-seeded team (Akron) will not maintain its home-pitch advantage.
What annoys me is that the NCAA would not be more open-minded. There are more than two options here (Evanston or Akron). One option is playing at St. Vincent/St. Mary's High School again. Another is going indoors to Cleveland State. A game in Chicago will be more profitable than at a high school or third-party university's complex, but isn't the NCAA's goal to achieve fairness and preserve amateurism, rather than to make a few more bucks?
The only way I could justify stripping a team of home-field advantage is to penalize them for some sort of infraction. However, there has been a historic level of snow this November. Keeping the field in tact must have been a daunting task.
On the other hand, the university does not have completely clean hands. Lee Jackson Field does not have the standard draining system that would prevent a lot of damage.
I will have more information as I hear it.
Matt Tutich scored the winning goal in the 109th minute of a game that saw Akron take 20 shots yet score just one goal.
If the goal had come five seconds later, the game would have went to penalty kicks.
The Zips beat Ohio State 1-0 to move to the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Ben Zemanski assisted the game winner.
The teams played at the athletic complex of St. Vincent/St. Mary's High School because the natural grass at Lee Jackson Field was unplayable.
Akron will play host to Northwestern on either Saturday or Sunday.
Akron will play at Temple Friday at 1 p.m. for eligibility to play in a bowl game.
Whether that will happen is another question, but the Zips seniors should not want to be sitting on their couches hopeless as the bowl picture shakes out.
Up until a few games ago, you could argue that Temple was the best defensive team in the MAC. They held Western Michigan to 7, Army to 7, Connecticut to 12, Miami to 9, Central Michigan to 24 and Ohio to 10.
Over the past three weeks, however, the Owls have allowed 293 rushing yards to Navy, 239 rushing yards to Kent State and 484 passing yards to Eastern Michigan. Regardless that Kent State and Navy are good running teams, Temple has demonstrated its weakness in stopping the pass and run.
At the same time, however, Temple's offense has heated up. While the running game has remained stagnant (and worst in the conference), quarterback Adam DiMichele has passed for 1,002 yards the past three games. DiMichele led Temple on a fourth-quarter comeback last season at the Rubber Bowl. Bruce Francis, the top receiver, has caught 13 touchdowns.
Akron should be relieved that the Owls do not run the ball well, because the Zips under J.D. Brookhart have repeatedly shown an apathy toward run defense. Temple should be relieved that Akron does not rush the quarterback well, because the Owls have given up the most sacks in the MAC (27).
Despite the recent shootouts, the Owls remain tops in the MAC on third-down. Defensive end Junior Gallette's eight sacks are third in the MAC. Linebacker Alex Joseph and defensive back Jaiquawn Jarrett led the team in tackles. Defensive back Dominique Harris has three interceptions -- the fifth-highest total in the conference.
The game tonight has been postponed due to unplayable conditions at Lee Jackson Field.
The teams are now set to play on Wednesday. The locations is not certain, however. I have heard Akron might play Ohio State at Lee Jackson Field, St. Vincent/St. Mary's High School or even in Columbus.
The good news is that Michigan State lost today, so the Zips have home-field advantage until the Final Four if they can keep winning.
The postponement also means that fans can now attend Akron's prospective beatdown against Division-II Urbana. That's where I am now. I will liveblog from the game in case you want to sit in your PJs.
Akron is five games away from the national championship.
The Zips will play Ohio State at 7:30 tonight in what could be the first. Akron beat Ohio State 4-3 in Columbus on Nov. 7 thanks to two Steve Zakuani goals.
An added twist tonight is that Ohio State suspended six players for its first-round win over Oakland. Those players are game-time decisions. Two are vital to Ohio State's rotation.
The weather forecast calls for a 100 percent chance of snow. After a snowy MAC Championship victory at Lee Jackson Field, some of the Zips complained that the frosty weather does not benefit their style.
It should be a great time out in the snow. I plan to attend because I feel I got cheated out of a final game of frostbite at the Rubber Bowl. Oh, and because it should be a great game.
I was awfully tempted to blog from the warm Rhodes Arena instead, but the Zips are playing Division-II Urbana. They're bad, even for a D-II team.
In Tom Gaffney's preview, coach Keith Dambrot says he wants the McKnight brothers to combine for 14 rebounds per game. That way, he can feel better about putting them on the floor together, instead of using Mike Bardo for Windex purposes.
If Akron doesn't win by 40, I'll be disappointed.
Gaffney also wrote about J.D. Brookhart's disappointment after the Ohio loss.
There are 68 spots for bowl teams. There are 63 bowl-eligible teams and 16 more with five wins. A bowl game does not appear likely, but a win would at least force some bowls to make a decision.
Six wins would also be an improvement from the last two seasons. And this season had lower expectations than either.
Back to the bowl discussion, though... I haven't looked at these 16 teams, but logic tells me that many are from BCS conferences and that they built their win totals through nonconference games. Therefore, they probably have losing records in their conference.
Let's assume that these teams are mostly 5-6. That right there shows they are more likely to lose than to win. It is also safe to say these teams will end with an in-conference game (and the team in question has been largely unsuccessful in conference games).
It is not preposterous to believe that only five could finish their season with a win and that Akron could be one of those five. I don't care to research this unless Akron wins on Friday against Temple. I will break down the Owls tomorrow.
Akron gave up two, and almost three, touchdowns on special teams, losing 49-42 at Ohio Saturday.
The Zips needed to win their last two to have a good chance at playing in the postseason. Rather, the defense succumbed to a last-minute drive by Bobcat quarterback Boo Jackson.
I will have grades tomorrow.
This is the game many Zips fans have been begging for. Akron will play No. 6 Pitt on Friday.
Unfortunately, a game against a highly ranked, high-major team came a year too late. This season, Akron's youth makes an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament very unlikely. In prior years, however, the Zips could have used the RPI boost and the potential for a nation-shocking upset.
If you remember last year, Pitt caught fire in time for the Big East Tournament, which it won. The Panthers fell in the second round of the Big Dance to Michigan State.
Pitt relies on a staunch and physical defense, particularly in the frontcourt. As ESPN points out, 42 percent of the Panthers' steals come from forwards.
Guard Levance Fields provides a lot of offense. He has averaged 13.5 points and 10 assists per game this season. Forward Sam Young, a projected first-round NBA draft pick, leads the team in scoring with 14.5 points per game.
Pitt beat Miami (Ohio) 82-53 on Monday. The RedHawks did not move the ball well. As a result, they shot only 31 percent. Pitt, on the other hand, had 21 assists and shot 59 percent from the field.
Akron and Pitt will tipoff at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Friday) as part of the Legends Classic. Pitt has won 30 consecutive home games.
The Zips finished just one slot away from a trek to the Final Four that would only include games at Lee Jackson Field.
Akron, the fifth seed, will play the winner of Oakland and Ohio State on Thursday, Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m. If the favorites win along the way, Akron will play Notre Dame at Lee Jackson Field before traveling to Michigan State for the national quarterfinals. The Final Four will be held in Frisco, Texas.
Akron should think about the rest of the season as a two-round single-elimination tournament, with a bowl game going to the victor.
First up is Ohio, whose 2-8 record overshadows its near victory at Ohio State. The Bobcats' only wins came against Kent State and Division-IAA Virginia Military. Blame a large number of injuries and turnovers for transforming Ohio into the MAC's doormat. Typically, a trip to Athens is unpleasant, but Saturday might be different.
The Bobcats have scored the second-fewest points in the MAC. Their rushing offense is the MAC's second worst, behind Temple. Freshman Donte Harden had been an effective runner until a shoulder injury ended his season. You might remember Chris Garrett as being quite effective last year. This season, he has averaged 3.4 yards per carry (down from 5.8) and has suffered broken ribs and fumble-itis. Ohio will probably give sophomore Vince Davidson some carries on Saturday, although Davidson has battled a turf toe ailment.
The team is coming off a 28-3 stomping by Bowling Green. In that game, Frank Solich replaced struggling quarterback Boo Jackson with Brandon Jones, who has completed only 14-of-32 passes this season. Jackson has a 58.1 completion percentage, throwing 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Solich's original starter was Theo Scott, who hurt his collarbone at Ohio State. Solich will decide between Jones and Jackson for the Akron game. Jackson has played well on three occasions. As a result, Ohio is fourth in the MAC in passing yards. The Bobcats have allowed 22 sacks -- a total that only two MAC teams have exceeded.
Ohio boasts the conference's best pass defense. However, when they faced Tim Hiller of Western Michigan and Dan LeFevour of Central Michigan -- the MAC's elite quarterbacks -- the Bobcats did succumb for more than 300 yards. Led by Jameson Hartke, the defensive line has created some havoc in the backfield. The team has made 17 sacks this season, compared to Akron's nine. Good running backs have been able to run on Ohio's defense, however. Buffalo scampered for 277 rushing yards on Ohio two games ago.
Akron beat Northern Illinois 1-0 Sunday to win the MAC Championship behind a goal from Steve Zakuani in the second overtime.
The Zips had seven shots on goal, compared to Northern Illinois' one. I believe Michael Beaven was at the game. He might post some thoughts later tonight.
The Zips will play Winthrop at home on Tuesday. Last year, Akron blew a late 10-point lead to lose on the road. This year, the Eagles have to replace four of their top five scorers.
Tonight, they got blown out by South Carolina. I will break down the Eagles tomorrow.
Hello Akron Zips Fans, This is Michael Beaven filling in for Mike Rasor.
I'm sittting courtside at the James A. Rhodes Arena watching the University of Akron vs. Canisius College men's basketball game on Saturday night. It's the season opening game for each team.
The attendance is decent considering it looks like winter is coming and fall is departing. Rain is being replaced by snow flurries and there is a strong wind in Akron. I miss spring and summer already.
Keep refreshing thoughout the game for updates ...
Akron's starting lineup: redshirt freshman guard Ronnie Steward, redshirt sophomore guard Steve McNees, junior forward Chris McKnight, senior forward Nate Linhart and redshirt sophomore center Mike Bardo.
Canisius' starting lineup: sophomore forward Greg Logins, junior guard Frank Turner, sophomore guard Robert Goldsberry, senior guard Bob Bevilacqua and sophomore forward Tomas Vazquez-Simmons.
Akron and Canisius are both sporting Nike uniforms. This is the Zips men's basketball team's first season wearing the Nike brand (because of the LeBron James connection) after wearing adidas for nearly the past decade.
Akron led 7-4 at the first media timeout with 15:54 remaining in the first half.
The Zips first five reserves in the game were: Brett McKnight, Darryl Roberts, Anthony "Humpty" Hitchens, Jimmy Conyers and Nikola Cvetinovic.
UA trailed 4-0 early and then put together a 13-3 run to lead 13-7 at the second media timeout. Nikola Cvetinovic, a freshman forward, had four points during the surge.
Neither team is shooting very well from the field. It's hard to say if it's good defense or poor offense. I would go with the poor offense.
The offense has picked up from the behind the 3-point line.
Anthony "Humpty" Hitchens, a Zips freshman guard, and Canisius senior guard Bob Bevilacqua each made two 3-pointers on four consecutive possessions. Following Hitchens second trey, the Zips led 19-18 with about 5:30 minutes remaining in the first half.
Canisius leads 26-22 at halftime. The Golden Griffins closed the half with baskets inside from 6-foot-9 and 320-pound junior center Chris Gadley, 6-foot-7 and 240-pound forward Greg Logins and 6-foot-7 and 190-pound sophomore forward Tomas Vazquez-Simmons.
The Zips defense was a problem in the 83-81 exhibition win over Walsh University last week. Tonight, it is definitely the offense. I'm sure coach Keith Dambrot and his staff are working in the locker room on making some changes for the second half.
The halftime stats are less than flattering for each squad. Akron is shooting 29.0 percent from the field and Canisius making 38.5 percent of the their shots. Can Zips 2009 7-foot recruit Zeke Marshall graduate early from McKeeseport High School and make it in time for the second half?
The offense can only get better. Tom Gaffney, my co-worker at the Akron Beacon Journal, and I both feel that Akron will find a way to win this game despite the poor offensive performance so far. Vincent Dorsey, of the Buchtelite, agrees the Zips will win.
The Zips defense has forced two 5-second turnovers in the first two minutes and 43 seconds of the second half.
UA leads 29-28 with 17:17 remaining in the second half. Chris McKnight and Nate Linhart each had a bucket and Darryl Roberts buried a 3-pointer.
Nate Linhart just made an impressive block with 15:50 remaining in the second half on a layup attempted by Bob Bevilacqua. The Zips hold a 31-30 lead at the 15:48 mark.
Griffins big man Chris Gadley just made a pair of free throws to give Canisius a 32-31 lead. Pat Galbincea of the Cleveland Plain Dealer just pointed some interesting stats regarding Gadley. He is 1-for-1 from beyond the 3-point arc, 2-for-2 from the free throw line and 1-for-5 on 2-point attempts. Galby is filling in for Elton Alexander.
Chris Gadley made another 3-pointer to make the score 37-31. The Zips Steve McNees converted a 3-pointer, a layup and split two free throws to tie the score 37-37.
It's still weird to look out on the floor and not see past Zips standouts Romeo Travis, Dru Joyce III, Jeremiah Wood, Nick Dials and Cedrick Middleton.
Cedrick Middleton is looking pretty sharp on the Zips bench as a graduate assistant. This is the first game that Zips fifth-year head coach Keith Dambrot has guided the team without Cedrick Middleton in the lineup. He played in every game during his four-year career.
Mike Bardo had a nice block.
Brett McKnight has scored the Zips past five points to give UA a 42-39 lead with 5:23 remainiing in the second half.
Darryl Roberts nailed a 3-pointer in front of the UA bench to extend the Zips lead to 45-39 with 4:28 left in the second half. The crowd erupted following the made basket, which gave the Zips their largest lead of the game.
UA leads 48-41 with 3:32 left in the second half. Brett McKnight made a 2-pointer and split two free throws to extend the lead. The defense forced another 5-second violation prior to the free throw.
The Zips lead has reached nine points (52-43) with just 1:43 left in the second half following Brett McKnight's two made free throws. Canisius has scored just six points in the past 11 minutes or so.
Chris McKnight made a layup off of an assist from Ronnie Steward with 1:06 left in the second half to make the score 54-43 in favor of the Zips.
It's looking like the Zips will notch a win, though it has not been very pretty.
Nate Linhart made two free throws in the final seconds.
Brett McKnight scored all of his 12 points in the final six minutes of the game.
Final Score: Akron 56, Canisius 46 ... Attendance: 2,216.
A sampling of the final stats:
Akron Brett McKnight led the Zips with 12 points and Darryl Roberts had 10 points.
Chris McKnight and Steve McNees each contributed nine points. Nate Linhart and Anthony "Humpty" Hitchens each had six points. Linhart had a team-high nine rebounds.
UA shot 35.0 percent (21-for-60) from the field and 50 percent (6-for-12) from the free throw line. The Zips had 27 rebounds and had 10 turnovers.
Canisius Frank Turner led the Golden Griffins with 12 points and Chris Gadley contributed 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Julius Coles and Greg Logins each scored seven points.
Canisius shot 35.4 percent (17-for-48) from the field and 100 percent (6-for-6) from the free throw line. The Golden Griffins had 47 rebounds but also had 30 turnovers.
Akron coach Keith Dambrot: "I told you I was going to earn my money this year. We couldn't throw it in the ocean. We had a lot of looks and couldn't make any. It got worse. We were throwing up airballs."
"We grinded through."
"I thought Mike Bardo played well defensively and (Nate) Linhart made a couple of big steals."
on Brett McKnight: "He is capable. They had the big guy (Chris Gadley) guard him so we took advantage of the size. Brett is a good shooter and a good scorer. We kind of rode him a little bit (at the end of the game)."
"We need to have Bardo on the floor defensively. We are a much better team when he plays, but we also need to have the McKnight's in the game because they are better offensively."
"Our guys have that winning mentality."
"I think early in the season, you see some crazy things. We seem to struggle early in the season (the past five seasons) for whatever reason. I think maybe we should not practice. The one thing we're good at over the course of the season is we get better."
comparing the Walsh exhibition to the Canisius game: "I think we were better, but we are not anywhere near where we have been. I thought the last eight or ten minutes we were pretty good."
on Anthony "Humpty" Hitchens: "Right now Humpty is kind of like that former (Cleveland) Indians player Russell Branyan. It's either a strike out or a home run. He can't get a walk or a single. He is trying like crazy. He has an unbelievable attitude and he wants to get better."
on an errant shot by Steve McNees: "Steve shot a 3-footer that went one-foot."
I normally don't look at the scoreboard during games, but I looked and saw we were shooting 28 percent for most of the game and I said to (assistant coach) Jeff (Boals) 'Are we ever going to make one.' I almost busted (Brett McClanhan's) redshirt (and brought him into the game to shoot)."
on Chris Gadley: "That is a big guy. He is pretty mobile around the basket. He is hard to deal with in there."
on the Zips team: "I think this team will get better. Some nights we will we just have to grind it out. We just have to continue to coach them up and get better."
Akron sophmore forward Brett McKnight: "I needed a spark to get going. Once I hit my first shot my confidence went up."
"I knew I could out-quick him (Chris Gadley) because he was so big."
Akron senior forward Nate Linhart: "If we didn't buckle down (defensively) in the end, it wasn't going to happen. Brett hit some big shots late for us."
"It was kind of a weird game, but thankfully we got it done."
on the offensive struggles: "Personally, I thought I have to contribute somehow. I had to defend, rebound and create havoc out there."
Canisius coach Tom Parrotta: "We didn't take care of the basketball. We had a six point lead ... and we shot ourselves in the foot. They capitalized. That lead should have grown from six to 10 (points)."
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
It might sound like sour grapes, but the Zips outplayed Buffalo last night.
They should have won if not for 1) Allowing Buffalo to go 5-for-5 on fourth down (What is this, Madden '08?) 2) Losing the turnover battle by two. 3) Not converting on three field goals -- two because penalties took Akron out of Igor Iveljic's range. 4) Offensive playcalling that made me pull my hair out all night. 5) More dropped passes than I can ever remember.
Regardless, Akron was the home team. It had a large crowd for motivation, yet still did not finish the game. There is no excuse for winning in such a charged atmosphere.
I'm sure Zips fans like me are completely disappointed. Football is funny in that way -- every fanbase expects to win every week. In reality, why should Akron win on any given week instead of another team and their fans? Is it the coaching? The players? Football is set up to destroy its fans' morale. Every week, the excitement of fans for both teams builds. Half of those people have to leave the stadium or turn off the TV/radio with a sour taste.
Akron will need a good podiatrist to remove all those bullets from the team's tarsals.
The Zips committed several tragic errors en route to a thrilling quadruple-overtime 43-40 loss, basically slamming the Rubber Bowl's door on their fingers.
In the fourth overtime, Chris Jacquemain and Dennis Kennedy missed a handoff exchange and a Bufallo player pounced on it. But it wasn't just the fumble. It was the penalties. It was the dropped passes. It was the play calling. This season has been about overachieving, but tonight, the Zips choked away a game they should have won.
That's not to take away from the magic that the game provided. It was a back-and-forth duel with no lack of drama. The script seemed ideal for the Zips to march out of the Rubber Bowl with a final victory. As a sports fan -- and particularly one from Northeast Ohio -- you should know that sporting events rarely fulfill the perfect storyline.
So the Bulls won, and they control their own destiny. Next week, they play Bowling Green, who also controls its own destiny. Akron, meanwhile, has two hopes. 1) The scenario I mentioned in an earlier post (scroll down). 2) Winning out and earning a bowl berth, which seems almost certain for each 7-5 team if you look at the math.
Despite that, this was a total team loss. Every part of the team (linemen, coaches, kicker, running back, quarterback) contributed to the team's successes throughout the night. However, each part of the team shot itself in the foot at inopportune moments.
I just returned home from watching the new Bond movie. It is fantastic. You should see it, especially if you're upset about football. I will have grades tomorrow.
Akron got some help from rival Kent State Wednesday as the Flashes knocked off Temple, who was 2-3 in the MAC, just a game behind the Zips.
On the eve of one of the most momentous games in the program's history, it might sound minimal, but Temple's exodus from the race makes it a three-team chase for the division crown.
Maybe you haven't really considered how crucial tonight's game is. You should...
What does a win do?
Akron would be 4-2 in the MAC -- a full game and tiebreaker ahead of Buffalo and a full game ahead of Bowling Green. Winning out, of course, would secure the MAC East. Assuming the Zips lose one of the final two games, Akron would need to be concerned if Bowling Green, and only Bowling Green, tied the Zips at 5-3. A three-way tie would be impossible. Buffalo OR Bowling Green would tally their fourth loss the following week when they play each other. But back to Bowling Green: If the Falcons win out for a 5-3 record, they take the tiebreaker over the Zips. However, that scenario is only possible if the Zips lose one of their last two. Bowling Green must also win both of its last two games (vs. Buffalo and @ Toledo). The biggest benefit of a win is that it would eliminate Buffalo from the race. The Bulls would have ZERO paths to Detroit (unless there is a wild multi-team tie at 4-4).
What does a loss do?
A loss would put Akron in a tie with Bowling Green at 3-3, which isn't very helpful considering the Zips lost to the Falcons. Even if the Zips win out, they would need help. Bowling Green would have to beat Buffalo, bringing the Bulls to 4-3. Then Buffalo would have to lose at home to Kent State, to prevent them from achieving five wins and winning the direct tiebreaker or three-way tiebreaker over Akron (I believe Buffalo would have the superior division record, which is the second tiebreaker). Further, for the Zips to play in Detroit, Bowling Green would have to lose its final game at Toledo, which is possible. Still, that is three games that would have to go Akron's way. To recap: BG over Buffalo (putting BG and Buffalo at 4-3), KSU over Buffalo (taking Buffalo to 4-4) and Toledo over BG (taking BG to 4-4). That's the only path to Detroit if Akron loses tonight.
There is one other possibility...
Kent State and Temple are not eliminated. They both have four losses, but if either team wins out (and they get A LOT of help), this tiebreaker situation could get really ugly. Really ugly.
Zeke Marshall is a Zip.
One of the nation's top 40 recruits signed his letter of intent just after 1 p.m. today. Members of the athletic department crowded around the fax machine and celebrated when his letter arrived.
Rivals.com ranks Marshall the No. 7 center and No. 39 player in the nation. The site calls him a developing center with a lot of potential. Scout.com ranks Marshall as the No. 7 center and No. 40 player in the nation.
This is one of the highest-profile signings in the history of the MAC, and certainly since the Internet made recruiting such a hot topic for fans. As you can see at ZipsNation.org, fans are going nuts over the potential dominance of Marshall.
With the perimeter defense that the Zips' freshman guards will provide and Marshall's unique ability to change an offensive gameplan with his shotblocking, Akron's defense has potential to be absolutely impenetrable. Marshall's size will give him 10 points a night from the get-go, but adding some weight to his 210-pound frame would make him unstoppable.
By the way, I won't be blogging from the game on Saturday. I have to take the lady friend out on a date. However, the ABJ's Michael Beaven will liveblog for me.
Akron is set to lock up one of the biggest recruits in MAC history today -- the first day a high school senior, namely Zeke Marshall, can sign a National Letter of Intent.
For me, this feels like an extra point that a football team needs to secure a tie in the last minute of the game. It should happen. It usually happens. But if it doesn't happen, it's a huge problem and a bunch of wasted effort.
From everything I have heard, Marshall is a trustworthy young man who comes from a great family. I expect him to keep his word, but until a player of this magnitude commits on paper, I will be a little queasy.
One analyst on Scout.com said Marshall is his sleeper from this recruiting class, despite acknowledging that the 7-foot center is already rated very highly.
I will try to keep you up to date as the day progresses.
Akron's final game in the Rubber Bowl also will be one of its most important.
The Zips will duel the upstart Buffalo Bulls for first place in the MAC East. The winner ascends to 4-2 in the division and earns a tiebreaker over the loser.
Buffalo isn't just a punch line anymore. The 5-4 Bulls boast three of the MAC's best skill players. Senior quarterback Drew Willy has taken more lumps over his career than a Whack-a-Mole game, but he has developed into one of the nation's most efficient passers. He is third in the MAC in passing yards and has built a 17-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Running back James Starks leads the conference in rushing yards. Also consider that his backup Brandon Thermilus has carried about nine times per game. Starks is capable of breaking off a 50- or 70-yard dash. As a power back, Thermilus is dangerous in goal line situations.
At receiver, Naaman Roosevelt is about as good as it gets. The 6-foot junior is second in the MAC with 93 receiving yards per game. Ernest Jackson, a 6-2 senior, is a solid second option. He caught two touchdowns against Missouri and accumulated 134 yards against Army.
On defense, the Bulls (like the Zips) have stayed afloat by forcing an unusual amount of turnovers. Linebacker Justin Winters and defensive back Josh Thomas have combined to force six fumbles. Winters is also sixth in the MAC in tackles. As a rule, however, the Bulls are not disruptive in the offensive backfield. They have only made eight sacks and 39 tackles for loss.
In essence, you can be moving the ball on Buffalo and scoring, particularly through the air, but the Bulls will poke the football out of your receiver's hands, score quickly, and make you wonder, "What just happened?" (It's a lot like Ric Flair, who would get the tar kicked out of him for 15 minutes, slap on the Figure Four and walk out with the title belt. Whoooo!)
For the detractors who don't believe in Buffalo, understand that the Bulls have passed every test so far. They have beaten all of the subpar teams (UTEP, Temple, Ohio, Miami and Army). They have played tough against the good teams on their schedule (Pitt, Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Missouri). The test on Thursday, however, is whether Buffalo can pull out a win it needs it most.
I know there has been an overload on election coverage the past month. If you're sick of it, skip this post. Don't read it. Don't complain about it.
I have a few strong opinions about certain races (not including the presidential one)...
Issue 6 -- I am writing my Law Review paper on the topic of why Ohio needs casinos. Despite that, vote NO on Issue 6. This is a clumsy effort to bring casinos. Building off Ohioans' fear of an economic depression, it might just pass. However, if Ohio wanted to do this right, it would commission a study to determine what cities could most effectively exploit casino gamblers and bring in tourism dollars. Then, it would auction off the right to build the STATE-RUN casinos. Issue 6, on the other hand, is a tool for an out-of-state casino mogul to build a casino without the competitive bidding.
Some people are complaining about the "loophole." In reality, the loophole is very unlikely to happen. An Indian casino must open in Ohio. The Indian casino, by federal law, will not pay taxes. Lyle Berman's casino will only pay taxes to match the lowest-paying casino in Ohio. HOWEVER, no Indian casino is even close to coming to Ohio. Believe me, I've studied the law thoroughly the past few weeks.
Still, Issue 6 must fail. It's a lousy way for Ohio to start its venture into gaming. Tell your friends.
Next, there are two really good Democratic officeholders who deserve to keep their jobs. (That should mean a lot from me, a Republican.) Sherri Bevan Walsh is a prosecutor who truly cares about preventing crime and does a lot more than her office requires. Also, Dan Horrigan is a good person. He stepped into the position mid-term after his predecessor retired and has still found ways to make the office more efficient.
As for the presidential race, I really haven't decided yet. I like Barack Obama more, but I know his executive agencies and Supreme Court choices will repulse me. I'm probably going to decide while I'm at the polls. It is certainly nice to have two good candidate from which to choose.
Toledo's season has been a series of highs and lows.
Beating Michigan at the Big House, the Rockets logged the conference's highest-profile win of the year. Toledo also took No. 25 Fresno State to overtime.
On the other hand, Ball State shut out Toledo, 31-0. Florida International also extinguished the Rockets in Toledo, 35-16. Northern Illinois dealt the Rockets a severe beatdown by a 38-7 count.
In its wins, Toledo has run the ball effectively. Coach Tom Amstutz relies on two backs: Morgan Williams and DaJuane Collins. You might remember Williams as a Canton McKinley recruit whom the Zips pursued. He went to Toledo as a nonqualifier and has been dependable. The freshman ran for 142 yards against Fresno State. Collins, a junior, is sixth in the MAC in rushing yards, averaging 79.6 yards per game.
Aaron Opelt has been a consistent passer, but nothing special. He has only thrown three interceptions, but also has never eclipsed 265 yards passing. His chief receivers are Stephen Williams and Nick Moore. Williams is ninth in the MAC with 60.6 yards per game. Moore, a 6-foot-4 senior, had a huge game against Michigan, catching 20 balls for 162 yards.
Linebacker Archie Donald leads the defense in tackles, which is fifth in the conference. Also watch for safety Barry Church, another player whom the Zips recruited. As a unit, Toledo has only eight sacks. It has allowed the second-most first downs in the MAC (Akron is last in that category because the 3-3-5 is trash). The Rockets' rush defense and pass defense statistics are average, at best.