Friday was one last time to kick the tires and make sure the bus was tuned up and moving forward.

Jackson’s Colin Biros made sure the last exhibition game was also a win for the University of Akron men’s soccer team when he made true on a penalty kick with seven seconds left to beat Michigan 3-2.

What UA coach Jared Embick found out was his third-ranked Zips are in the beginning stages of defending their Mid-American Tournament title and showing some signs of that College Cup attitude.

“I don’t think we had our ‘A game,’ ” Embick said. “We struggled at times. Give Michigan credit. They played a good game. You could argue they deserved a better result, but I just think our guys fought through it and we found a way to win.

"Sometimes it’s not going to be pretty, but the ability to find ways to win when your ‘A game’ isn’t there is important.”

Winners of their preseason games with Evansville (1-0) and the University of Charleston (4-1), the returning national runners-up started putting things together against Michigan to gut out the win.

The good news for the Zips is Embick doesn’t build his team to be lights out in Game 1, preferring to be ready for a long postseason run.

Although he wants to win his season opener against Xavier, Embick also wants to see improvement in his team in advance of October and November.

“We treat every game the same,” Zips forward David Egbo said. “Whether it’s an exhibition or a regular-season game, we prepare the same. It was a pretty rough game. It wasn’t our best game, but the most important thing is we came out with a strong mentality in the second half. We grinded through and got the victory.”

The good came almost immediately when New Mexico transfer Tom Smart rifled a left-footer from 25 yards out into the right corner and past Michigan keeper Andrew Verdi.

It continued in the second half when Egbo took advantage of a Wolverines miscue, driving to the right of the box and slipping one off the post past Owen Finnerty.

The bad came when Jack Hallahan found a streaking Nebojsa Popovic with 14:46 left in the first half to allow the Wolverines to tie things up heading into intermission.

It was compounded when the two switched roles in the second half to knot it up at 2-2 with 9:08 left.

But that’s what you get in an exhibition game in which it’s more about getting your chess pieces in line and less about the result.

What teams, and coaches, look for in particular is heart and Akron certainly showed that.

“There’s a lot of core guys in here from last year,” Biros said. “We almost have the same midfield. It’s very strong. There’s a lot of chemistry. We’re just hard workers. We had to work for it and it shows.”

The game with Michigan was exactly what Embick was looking for as the Zips get ready for the regular season. Anyone can bring in a team and run over them. Embick wants to expose weaknesses and work to get better.

“How we did the preseason is we kind of built some of these different opponents in that can draw different problems to help in our preparation,” Embick said. “We played Michigan here. Xavier is usually a big team. We just wanted to get a good feel for a quality match to prepare us for the regular season, which is going to be another level up from what we’ve seen here."