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The University of Akron men’s soccer team had the chance to deny Stanford a second opportunity to be the second soccer program in NCAA history to win three consecutive national titles. However, the Zips would suffer a familiar fate, losing to Stanford in the Final Four of the College Cup tournament 2-0 in Philadelphia, Penn. at Talen Energy Stadium.
The Cardinal’s first half was a dominant display of defensive pressure. Stanford took nine shots, four on goal, to Akron’s two shots, one on goal.
Stanford keeper Nico Corti made five saves to ensure the clean sheet for Stanford, who has not surrendered a goal in NCAA Tournament play this season. Akron keeper Ben Lundt pulled in four saves for the Zips but gave up two goals due to Akron’s sloppy mid-field play.
Stanford had a seven-minute stretch in the first half where the Cardinal kept Zips on their defensive third, having five near opportunities to put the ball into the net at the Major League Soccer venue.
Stanford’s skipper, Drew Skundrich, forced a turnover from Akron’s Pau Belana, allowing the Cardinals to set up Foster Langsdorf for a diving header for the first goal of the game.
“I think every player was handful tonight. If you turn the ball over in the right spots, Langford will prey on it and we didn’t make him play the game he didn’t want to play. For that reason, we let him do what he wanted to do tonight,” said Embick on Langford’s performance on the night.
The best chance for Akron came in the 61st minute when David Egbo’s shot was saved by Corti. Corti’s save deflected to Niko De Vera, had a strike on goal, which again was saved by Corti.
“That was the moment that we had the momentum and a chance to get back in the game and I do think it’s a key one,” Embick said on the two saves. “If we really rose to the occasion at that moment, who knows what would have happened. When it didn’t go through we kind of had a lull and they started to get back into the game. That’s what happens.”
The final blow for Stanford came in the 79th minute when Werner took a deflection and drove the ball down the left side of the box. He hooked a left-footed shot over Lundt, and the ball deflected on the bottom side of the crossbar and in, giving Stanford the victory and ticket to the final.
“It’s hard to say it, but they were the better team out on the field tonight. They came out aggressive, and I think they got us early and we couldn’t respond,” said head coach Jared Embick after the game.
Akron men’s soccer team gathered at the James A. Rhodes Arena for the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship Selection Show with students and faculty. Photo Courtesy of Akron Athletics.
The 2017 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship Selection took place Nov. 13 that featured the Mid-American Conference Champions, the University of Akron men’s soccer team. The Zips earned a No. fifth national seed and will host the winner between the Washington/Seattle match in the second-round action on Sunday, Nov. 19 at Cub Cadet Field.
“You wanted a top four, you wanted the three home games but it’s a really good seed,” head coach Jared Embick said on the draw. “When you break down the bracket, there’s a lot of familiar teams in there that we have played and done well against. If we have the chance to play them, we can take that belief into the game and use that as a motivating factor of what we can accomplish here.”
Akron will make its 11th consecutive and 32nd overall tournament appearance this campaign. Akron is one of four Division I programs that have qualified for the NCAA Championships in eleven seasons, Indiana, Maryland, and Virginia.
The Zips look promising coming off their MAC Championship victory over Western Michigan. The team has won ten consecutive matches, their last loss dating back to early October against the Broncos, 1-0.
“We’ve all been here before,” Senior forward Sam Gainford said after the selection. “I need to learn by example and we have a lot of seniors here on the team that knows what needs done.”
Gainford and fellow Zip forward Stuart Holthusen have scored a total of seventeen goals this season, ten of those goals being in their last five matches.
The first round of games for the Tournament, including Seattle and Washington, will take place on Thursday, Nov. 16.
According to gozips.com, tickets are available now by calling or texting the Akron ticket office at 888-99-AKRON (25766) or visiting The C.P. and Cornelia S. Chima Athletics Ticket Office at InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field (located at 375 E. Exchange Street, near Gate 1 at the southwest corner of the venue, at the corner of E. Exchange and S. Union streets) Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Season ticket holders can purchase their same seats for the NCAA games by calling our texting the ticket office.
Prices for all NCAA games are $15 for reserved, $10 for General Admission and we have a family four pack in general admission for $35.
Seven hundred and fifty free tickets will be provided to University of Akron students with a valid Zip Card (limit one per Zip Card). Tickets can be picked up at the gate on Sunday with a valid Zip Card.