Akron To Take On Michigan In College Cup Tonight at 11 pm (ESPN2)

Updated 12/10/2010

Game preview courtesy of Akron Athletic Communications

AKRON, Ohio - The third-seeded University of Akron men's soccer team, which has been defeated just once during the regular run of play in its last 48 matches, will face 10th-seeded Michigan in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament Friday at Harder Stadium.

The Zips and Wolverines will kick off at 11 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2/ESPNU/ESPN3.com. JP Dellacamera (play-by-play) and John Harkes (color) will have the call.  

NCAA Tournament Semifinals: No. 3 seed Akron Zips (20-1-2) vs. No. 10 seed Michigan Wolverines (17-4-3)
Friday, Dec. 10

  • 11:00 p.m. (ET) | Harder Stadium Santa Barbara, Calif.
Radio: None | Television: ESPN2/ESPNU/ESPN3.com | Internet Stream: ESPN3.com | Live Stats: NCAA.com

Akron At The College Cup
  • The Zips (20-1-2), who are attempting to win the school's first team national championship in any sport, are competing in the College Cup for the second consecutive season and for the third time overall. In all, UA is 2-0 in national semifinal games.
  • Akron brought a perfect 23-0-0 record to the College Cup a year ago and defeated North Carolina in a penalty kick shootout (5-4) in its semifinal match-up. The Zips then were defeated by Virginia under the same circumstance (2-3) in the national championship game.
  • UA's only other appearance at the College Cup came in 1986 when it defeated Fresno State, 1-0, on the road to advance to the national championship game, which was held in the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wash. There, the Zips were defeated by Duke, 1-0, on a second-half goal that banged off the bottom of the crossbar and into the net. Akron was 17-4-3 that season under head coach Steve Parker.
  • Akron has played and defeated two of the other three teams at this year's College Cup. The Zips earned a 3-0 decision at North Carolina in the first game of the season and knocked off Michigan, 7-1, in October.

The Road to The Santa Barbara

  • After capturing their fourth consecutive Mid-American Conference Tournament championship in November, the Zips were awarded the No. 3 seed for the NCAA Tournament. It is the second-highest tournament seed achieved by the program (UA was the No. 1 seed in 2009) and the sixth time Akron has been seeded overall. In addition to its No. 1 designation in 2009, UA was also the No. 5 seed in 2008, No. 14 in 2007, No. 9 in 2005 and No. 15 in 2003.
  • The Zips defeated West Virginia, 3-2, in the second round of this year's tournament, knocked off No. 14 seeded Indiana, 2-1, in the Round of 16, then punched their ticket to Santa Barbara by virtue of a 3-2 shootout victory over No. 6 seeded Cal in the quarterfinals.
  • The Akron attack, which is ranked No. 1 in the nation, (2.65 goals per game), has been in a groove during the postseason with 15 goals in five games overall (including the MAC Tournament) and eight goals in three NCAA Tournament contests alone.
  • A large part of that surge has been the play of freshman striker Darren Mattocks, who has recorded at least one point in his last five games - all during the postseason. In all, the Jamaican has tallied six goals and three assists during that time, including game-winning strikes against Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference semifinals and Indiana in the Round of 16.
  • The Zips have out-shot their competition, 45-27, during the NCAA Tournament through their first three games while recording nine assists on eight goals overall.
  • Akron, which hosted its first three NCAA Tournament games, pushed its consecutive home unbeaten streak to 39 games last weekend to match an NCAA record (Tulsa, 1988-92). The last team to defeat the Zips at Lee R. Jackson Soccer Field was South Florida (0-1, 2OT) in the second round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament during fifth-year head coach Caleb Porter's second season with the Zips.

Akron At The NCAA Tournament

  • The Zips are currently competing in their 25th NCAA Tournament, dating back to 1961, where they own an all-time record of 14-23-4 (.390). Akron has fared significantly better since the arrival of Caleb Porter, the 2009 NSCAA National Coach of the Year, however with a 6-3-2 (.636) mark since 2006.
  • UA is making its fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament under Porter. The Zips have earned first-round byes all four years and have advanced to the Round of 16 in each of the last three.

Akron vs. Michigan

  • Friday's semifinal will mark the 10th meeting between UA and U-M in a series that dates back to 2003. Akron leads the series 6-3 overall and has won five of the last six meetings - including three straight - since 2005.
  • Behind three goals from junior defender Kofi Sarkodie, the 2010 ESPN Academic All-America of the Year, the Zips earned a 7-1 victory over the Wolverines last October at Lee R. Jackson Soccer Field. It was the first hat trick of Sarkodie's career.
  • UA posted a 21-5 shot advantage for the game, including a 13-3 margin on frame. Akron's seven goals that day were the most recorded by the Zips in two seasons and the most allowed by Michigan in its program history.
  • Coincidentally, another Akron player - junior striker Darlington Nagbe - netted his first career hat trick in the previous meeting to power the Zips to a 5-1 win in Ann Arbor in 2009.

Porter vs. The Big Ten

  • Michigan was one of five Big Ten schools to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. All five - including No. 14 Indiana, No. 16 Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State - advanced to the Round of 16.
  • The Zips have played and earned a result (4-0-1) against all five of those schools this season and are 12-1-3 against the conference since 2008. Akron picked up road wins at Michigan State (1-0) and Penn State (2-1, 2OT) and defeated Michigan (7-1) and Indiana (2-1) at home this season. The Zips also earned a 2-2 tie at Ohio State.
  • The last Big Ten team to defeat UA was Northwestern, which edged the Zips 1-0 in the third round of the NCAA Tournament in 2008.
  • UA is 13-4-5 (.705) all-time versus teams from the Big Ten under fifth-year head coach Caleb Porter, who played and coached at Indiana prior to arriving on campus in 2006.
  • Akron went a perfect 5-0-0 against the Big Ten in 2009 as part of its NCAA record-tying 23-game winning streak.

Young Guns II

  • Friday's game will be a rematch of the top two scoring freshmen in the country in Akron's Darren Mattocks and Michigan's Soony Saad. Mattocks, who has tallied 18 goals in 23 matches (0.82), and Saad, who has scored 19 goals in 23 matches (0.83), each scored a goal in the teams' previous meeting in October.
  • Among all scorers, Mattocks is ranked third nationally with 18 goals, one behind Michigan's Soony Saad and two behind Division I leader Corey Hertzog. Hertzog's Penn State team was eliminated in the Round of 16 by Maryland in a 1-0 decision.
  • To put Mattocks' achievement into perspective, former UA players and current Major League Soccer stars Steve Zakuani, who was a finalist for the Hermann Trophy in 2008, and Teal Bunbury, who won the award in 2009, each recorded six goals during their entire freshman campaigns with the Zips.
  • Mattocks' current goal total has already surpassed Bunbury's tally (17) from a year ago, which led all Division I scorers. Zakuani led the country in scoring with 20 goals in 2008.
  • Moreover, many of Mattocks' goals this season have been game changers as he has netted a team-high six game-winners. He was denied what would have been a seventh at Ohio State when the Buckeyes tied the match with two seconds left in regulation.
  • Mattocks also enjoyed a torrid streak from the end of September to the middle of October when he scored nine goals in an eight-game stretch, including game-winners in back-to-back contests at Oakland and at Northern Illinois.

Dispelling The Mid-Major Myth
Since 2005, the Zips have posted the best winning percentage in the nation with an overall record of 106-14-14 (.843). But it is important to note that while Akron plays in what is considered to be a mid-major conference (Mid-American), it has played anything but a mid-major schedule.

  • In fact, the Zips have recorded a top-10 RPI in each of the last four years under Caleb Porter (No. 4 in 2010, No. 1 in 2009, No. 5 in 2008 and No. 10 in 2007) and a combined 6-0-1 record against the ACC and Big Ten Conference this fall, including postseason play. In the past two seasons, UA has posted a combined 9-0-1 record against the Big Ten alone.
  • Furthermore, UA went unbeaten against eight teams (7-0-1) that qualified for this year's NCAA Tournament during the regular season. The Zips defeated Creighton (1-0), Michigan (7-1), Michigan State (1-0), North Carolina (3-0), Oakland (5-0), Penn State (2-1) and Tulsa (4-0) this fall by a combined score of 23-2 and played Ohio State to a 2-2 draw.
  • Last season, Akron defeated six teams (St. Louis, Indiana, Ohio State, Tulsa, Penn State, Michigan State) that qualified for the NCAA Tournament, out-scoring them, 13-1, during the regular season.

Dominant Soccer

  • The Zips enter the College Cup as the top-scoring team in the country (2.65 goals/game) and ranked seventh in goals-against-average (0.63). They are one of just three schools in the country (Maryland and UC Irvine) to be ranked in the top 10 for both categories.
  • Once again, Akron has produced one of the most dangerous attacking duos up top in Darren Mattocks and Darlington Nagbe. The two strikers have combined for 25 goals and 18 assists while totaling eight game-winners. While Mattocks leads the team with 18 goals, Nagbe paces the Zips' attack with a career-high 13 assists. Moreover, of those 13 helpers, six have set up game-winning goals - including three to Mattocks.
  • In all, Akron boasts a roster that features 12 different players who have scored at least one goal, including four who have scored seven or more. On top of that, nine different players have contributed at least one game-winning goal this season.
  • The Zips posted six straight shutouts to start the season and matched an NCAA record by keeping a clean sheet in 11 consecutive games, dating back to 2009.

Did You Know?

  • Including postseason contests, Akron is 15-6-5 (.673) all-time against top-25 teams (NSCAA) under head coach Caleb Porter, including 13-2-4 (.789) since 2008.
  • The Zips are 81-1-1 (.982) when scoring first and 58-0-0 (1.000) when leading at halftime since 2006. UA is also 65-0-2 (.985) when scoring two or more goals in a game during that time.
  • The Zips have trailed in just five games this season (at Ohio State, at Penn State, at Cleveland State, at Hartwick and against California) for a combined total of 38 minutes and 42 seconds.
  • In fact, UA has trailed in just seven games since the start of the 2009 season - a span of 48 games and 4,476 minutes - for a combined total of 82 minutes and 26 seconds. Coincidentally, nearly half of those games have been against Hartwick.
  • Since 2008, UA has posted an overall record of 60-4-7 (.894) and a 16-0-1 (.970) mark in MAC play while winning the last three league regular-season and tournament championships. During that time, Akron has posted 46 shutouts in 71 contests while allowing more than one goal just six times.

Porter Snapshot

  • Head coach Caleb Porter, the 2009 NSCAA National Coach of the Year, is in his fifth season at Akron.
  • Porter, a four-time MAC Coach of the Year, has led the Zips to four straight MAC Tournament titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances - including a national championship appearance in 2009, a Round of 16 appearance in 2008 and a Second Round appearance in 2007.
  • Porter's recruiting classes have been ranked in the top 5 nationally in each of his four years at the helm. UA recruits were ranked No. 5 in 2007 and 2008; No. 1 in 2009 and No. 2 in 2010.
  • Porter's teams have led the nation in goals-against-average in each of the past two seasons. Akron's GAA of 0.27 in 2009 was a program best and third-lowest, single-season mark in NCAA history.
  • Since Porter took over in 2006, the Zips have allowed two or more goals in a game just 12 times in 111 contests or 10.8 percent of the time.
  • Porter has produced seven professional players in four years at Akron. Steve Zakuani, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 MLS Draft, headlines a list that also includes Teal Bunbury (No. 4 overall in 2010), Blair Gavin (No. 10 overall in 2010).
  • Bunbury was the 2009 Hermann Trophy winner after leading the nation with 17 goals in 25 games while Zakuani was a finalist for the prestigious award in 2008 after leading all Division I soccer with 20 goals in 23 games.