MAC champs

Written by: Zack West

Cheers erupted at FirstEnergy Stadium-Cub Cadet Field and filled the quiet campus at The University of Akron Sunday night when the No. 1 men’s soccer team took down Northern Illinois to win the 2012 MAC championship.

The noise arose when sophomore Saad Abdul-Salaam scored the first goal of his Zips career in the 73rd minute of the game.

“It is just a joy, especially with it being such a big game,” Abdul-Salaam said.

Abdul-Salaam, a walk-on sophomore, finally got a shot past the Huskies’ defense after nine shots had been saved by Husky goalkeeper Jordan Godsey.

The Zips dominated the game by playing tough defense and keeping pressure on the Husky defense. Akron held advantages in shots (23-4), shots on goal (11-0) and corner kicks (9-2).

“I thought, in that first half, there was a funk in our team,” head coach Caleb Porter said. “We were able to respond in the second half.”

The goal seemed to put a spark back in the team, and just two minutes later Aodhan Quinn scored an insurance goal off an assist from Scott Caldwell.

“We know we still have games left, so we have to keep this feeling and bring it to the next few games,” Caldwell said after the game.

The next step for the team will be the NCAA Tournament. They finish the season ranked No. 1 in the country.