April 4, 2009

Courtesy of Akron

AKRON, Ohio - The University of Akron men's soccer team picked up its third shutout victory of the spring season with an impressive 3-0 decision over Wake Forest at Spry Stadium late Friday night.

In doing so, the Zips (3-0-0) accomplished what no team had done in nearly three years - defeat Wake Forest, the No. 1-ranked team in the nation throughout the entire regular season last season - on its home field. The Demon Deacons, who advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA College Cup last Fall, finished the 2008 campaign with the fourth-longest home winning streak (34 games) in NCAA history. The last team to beat Wake at Spry Stadium was Maryland on September 23, 2006.

While Friday's exhibition game will not affect the streak, it was a remarkable feat for a young Akron club on the rise nonetheless.

"It's not so much the win, because our players believed we would win this game," said UA head coach Caleb Porter. "But what I'm most proud of is the manner in which we accomplished it. Our players have worked very hard to evolve to a level where this is a result that is expected, not by sitting back but by going toe-to-toe with teams.

"Our goal is always to play dominant soccer, which means attacking and defending with equal intensity and I thought we dictated the majority of the game. That will continue to be our goal no matter who we play."

Freshman Teal Bunbury made it 1-0 in the first half with his first goal of the spring. The forward received a cross from sophomore midfielder Michael Nanchoff, who scored twice in UA's 4-0 blanking of Michigan last weekend, held off his defender and rolled to his right to slot the goal.

Freshman Darlington Nagbe, the 2008 Mid-American Conference Newcomer of the Year, made it 2-0 after the break. Bunbury started the action by blocking a clearance and Nagbe picked up the loose ball and drove at his defender. After his initial shot was blocked, he collected the rebound and sent it past the Wake Forest 'keeper for his second score of the spring.

Junior Stefan Ostergren fed in-coming freshman Scott Caldwell, one of the prized standouts from Akron's No. 1-ranked recruiting class for 2009, for a third goal after a quick combination at midfield to close out the scoring. Ostergren served a ball in the box and Caldwell drove it home for his first goal in an Akron uniform. Caldwell is eligible for the spring season because he is already enrolled at classes at UA.

In all, UA pressured the Demon Deacons, the 2007 NCAA champions, for the majority of the game and held them to very few scoring chances. Another incoming freshman David Meves, who also posted a shutout against the Wolverines, started in goal for the Zips.

"I have taken great inspiration from (Deacons head coach) Jay Vidovich and the Wake Forest program," Porter said. "They always play the game in a way that is attractive but effective. Ultimately, they won a national championship with that approach, which is refreshing and gives us great motivation that Akron soccer can do the same one day."

The Zips' spring schedule won't get any easier Sunday when they travel to Greensboro to face North Carolina at 1 p.m. The Tar Heels slipped by UA in an exhibition contest last fall and defeated Wake Forest in the NCAA semifinals to advance to the national championship game.

2009 UA Men's Soccer Spring Schedule
Mar. 28 vs. Oakland, W, 2-0
Mar. 28 vs. Michigan, W, 4-0
Apr. 3 vs. Wake Forest, W, 3-0
Apr. 5 vs. North Carolina, Greensboro, N.C., 1 p.m.
Apr. 18 vs. Indiana, Ft. Wayne, Ind., 7 p.m.
Apr. 26 vs. Columbus Crew, Akron, Ohio 5 p.m.