The University of Akron men’s soccer team will enter the belly of the beast at 5 p.m. Sunday with absolutely no fear and with the expectation of advancing to its third elite eight appearance in the last four seasons.

The Zips (12-6-2) travel to Spry Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., to take on top-seeded Wake Forest (18-2) in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, but know history is on their side.

The Demon Deacons have been seeded No. 1 the last three seasons, but don’t have a title to their name during that stretch.

Last season, they lost in the round of eight while Akron reached its second College Cup in the last three seasons.

“Our experience with difficult matchups, not only this year but last year, has really given us confidence,” Zips coach Jared Embick said. “Not only the returners, but the new guys have experience this year. These are easy games to get motivated for. For us, it’s always been good to plays teams that are ranked.”

Although the Zips are 3-3-1 this season against ranked teams, they have won the last three, beating Michigan State (2-1), Creighton (1-0) and West Virginia (3-1) in the last six weeks.

What’s more, Akron is riding the wave of a six-game winning streak and have the utmost assurance No. 7 is around the corner.

“We have confidence going in,” Zips goalkeeper Ben Lundt said. “The guys have experience against ranked teams. We’ve done well and had success against teams that play soccer like us. We are looking forward to this matchup.”

The matchup brings an interesting dynamic as each squad likes to possess the ball and pressure for 90 minutes.

Wake Forest spreads the scoring around between Omir Fernandez (12 goals, 6 assists), Burno Lapa (10, 9), Machop Choi (5, 7), Justin McMaster (6, 4), Aristole Zarris (5, 5) and Allstair Johnston (3, 5).

The multifaceted attack might strike fear in many defenses, but Embick said he has complete confidence in his keeper.

“These last four weeks, same as the team, he’s been terrific,” Embick said of Lundt. “He’s been making big plays when we needed him to.

“Fortunately, the goalkeeper kind of lives and dies from the form of the guys in front. Earlier in the year, he suffered through our inexperience and our lack of cohesion, [and] maybe he would like a couple plays back. Now that everyone’s stronger, you can see his confidence is there as well.

“Last year is probably more of an indication that we’ll see Ben play well in these tournament games. He seems to relish the challenge and really brings out the best. Last year, he made some really big plays in the run-up, including Stanford to keep us in the game as long as he could. No doubt this coming Sunday we’re going to need him to make a couple plays with the attack we’re going to have to deal with.”

Although the Demon Deacons are 13-1 at home and have a 6-1 mark against ranked teams, Akron is playing its best soccer of the season.

David Egbo (12 goals, 4 assists) has produced three-game winners during the current six-game winning streak, and Marcel Zajac (7, 7) has manufactured two and Ezana Kahsay (4, 4) one.

It’s been a complete effort, however, with Diogo Pacheco (5, 2), Morgan Hackworth (4, 4), Colin Biros (2, 3), Skye Harter (1, 6) and Abdi Mohamed (1,4) highlighting team play.

“We have to look at what we’re doing more than anything,” Hackworth said. “We have to play with our own beliefs. We’re doing great right now and playing some great soccer. We’ll keep building off what we’ve been doing in this great run and look to get the win then.”

That win will come in a hostile environment and one where Wake Forest has lost just four times in the last three seasons.

There’s no doubt the 3,000-plus fans will bring venom. It’s up to the Zips to provide the bite.

“We know Wake Forest is a good team,” Lundt said. “Their record says it all. Their seed says it all, but honestly the key will be for us to keep doing our thing.”