Bring on Niagara

Written by: Zach West

The University of Akron men’s soccer team will have their eyes set on the first round of the NCAA tournament tonight when Michigan takes on Niagara.

“We’re excited to start the most important part of the season,” head coach Caleb Porter said of the NCAA tournament.

By finishing the season ranked No. 1, the Zips (17-1-2) earned the fifth seed in the national tournament along with a first-round bye.

They will play the winner of the Michigan/Niagara match at FirstEnergy Stadium-Cub Cadet Field Sunday night.

Michigan boasts a 10-9-1 record on the season.

They lost their last game to Michigan State in double-overtime in the Big Ten tournament.

The Wolverines took on the Zips earlier in the season, and the Zips posted a 1-0 win.

Niagara has a regular-season record of 13-1-4.

With a slightly easier schedule than the Zips, the Purple Eagles went on to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with two overtime wins against Siena and Loyola.

This is the sixth consecutive year that the Zips have made it to the NCAA tournament, and the 27th time in school history.

In 2010, the Zips went on to win the national championship.

Other notable teams in the tournament are No. 12 Creighton, with whom the Zips tied early in the regular season, No. 13 New Mexico and No. 4  Connecticut. Notre Dame earned the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, and also gave Akron their only loss during the season. Porter was surprised with the pairings and seeding.

“We were two in the RPI, and we ended up getting the five seed, which is a bit shocking,” he said. “But it is what it is. We can’t do anything about what the committee says, and we just have to get focused.”

Despite the surprising seeding, Porter thinks that the team will be able to take care of business.

“This team has proven all season long that they can get it done, whether it’s home, away, conference games or non-conference games,” he said.

The Zips will play the winner of the Michigan/Niagara match this Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Student tickets are $1 and can be purchased at the ticket office in InfoCision Stadium, or online at gozips.com/tickets.

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