Nov. 28, 2008

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 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.