The pressure's on for men's soccer

Written by: Zach West

“Exciting”, is the word Caleb Porter, University of Akron head Men’s Soccer coach, used to describe his feelings about the 2012 season.

The Zips kicked off their season with the first official practice on Wednesday, August 8.  Porter said, “We had good energy today, almost too good.”

After a relative early exit from the tournament last year, with 1-0 loss to Charlotte in the round of 16, Porter is confident that the experience and maturity gained from last season will be a factor in making a deeper run into the tournament.

“It’s good to have guys that have been through a college season and know what to expect,” Porter said.

With experience in goal and 3 of the four defensemen returning, along with experience in the midfield, the team will make an easier transition into the season.  Porter expressed that there is an open competition at all positions, but with the loss of Darren Mattocks to the MLS and the lack of experience, the competition for the forward position is wide open.

“We won’t have that one-headed monster like we did last year in Darren Mattocks, but we will have a combination of players to replace him,” Porter said.

With a mix of veteran players, some new arrivals to the team and seven years of head coaching for the Zips, Porter says that the team is towards the front end of a cycle that will make a push for the national championship this year.

Porter views the team as tough, with the key strengths being in the team’s depth and experience.  He says, “We’re the kind of team that will roll up our sleeves and fight through tough games.”

Porter says that this year’s out of conference schedule is, “probably the most difficult I’ve seen while coaching.”

The Zips’ preseason nation ranking is 10th.  They will take on 3rd ranked Creighton, 12th ranked Indiana, 15th ranked St. Johns and 5th ranked South Florida along with five other out of conference games, before opening up the MAC schedule with a road trip to Bowling Green.

Porter says the team expects to win those games but, “the number one priority is be undefeated in the post season.”

When asked about the pressure that was on the team to succeed the coach said, “No one can put more pressure on us than ourselves.”