The University of Akron men’s soccer team left Morrison Stadium in Omaha, Neb. on Aug. 31 ticked off after a 1-1 draw with Creighton.
The Zips felt they scored a game-winning goal in overtime to win 2-1, but an off-sides call negated the goal and the match finished even.
It was UA’s second match of the season and Zips coach Caleb Porter was still tinkering with the lineup.
Nearly three months later UA gets an opportunity to make amends against Creighton when the two sides meet in an NCAA Tournament third-round match at 4:30 today at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Zips (18-1-2) already have a chip on their shoulder as they were given the fifth seed in the tournament despite holding the No. 1 ranking in the country in all five major polls. The Bluejays (16-3-2) ranked No. 8 and are the 12th seed.
“It was heartbreaking to not get the result the first time we played at their place,” Zips sophomore Wil Trapp said. “We have come a long way this season and we are not going to lose games at home. It is kind of perfect for us because we can get a little redemption and they play a similar style to us, and usually when we play teams who try to play [Akron’s style] against us it bodes well in our favor.”
Creighton took a 1-0 lead in the first matchup against Akron courtesy of a goal by junior Sean Kim in the 24th minute. Senior Jose Gomez assisted on the goal.
UA tied the score at 1-1 on a goal by freshman Alfred Koroma in the 57th minute following a pass from sophomore DeAndre Yedlin. The Zips thought they had the victory in overtime when junior Eric Stevenson played a pass to junior Aodhan Quinn for a goal, but an offside call wiped away the goal.
“It will be nice to have a rematch with them,” Yedlin said. “I think we should have won that game, but no excuses. We could have finished more chances to make it 2-1. I am very excited to have a rematch with them and to get revenge.”
Changes in the Zips lineup has them riding a 15-game winning streak, which includes winning the Mid-American Conference championship.
The Bluejays have won 11 matches in a row and are the Missouri Valley Conference champions.
“They are a good team and they are talented,” Porter said. “They play a very similar style to us where they are a possession team. They will look to press us at times. I think the biggest difference is we are certainly a much different team than we were then, and they are too. Looking at that game on tape, and looking at us now, we have definitely taken a lot of steps forward as a team. We look much more fluid and machine-like.”
Zips sophomore Bryan Gallego agrees with his coach and expects a different result today.
“We feel like we have come a long way and gotten a lot better,” Gallego said. “We are excited for that matchup and show them how Akron soccer is really played.”
Porter said he encourages his players to approach every match the same way as they try to get four more victories to win the national title, the Zips’ second in three seasons.
“We have played good teams and this is a good team,” Porter said. “We are aware of that. We are not changing the way we play. We respect them and make some adjustments in terms of what we need to do to deal with them, but it is mostly about us performing well and us playing our style. That is what we do all season and that is what we do during the tournament. That is why we play this style because it is the best way to win games in the NCAA Tournament because we are the aggressor and we are the proactive team.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.