Mid-American Conference soccer tournament preview

By Tyler Novak

The college soccer regular season has concluded, which means it’s tournament time in Akron again. The No. 8 ranked Akron Zips (14-3-1, 5-1 MAC) won the Mid-American Conference regular championship again this season — their ninth consecutive year of doing so.

As UA pursues another NCAA tournament berth, they will have to win the MAC tournament to secure an automatic bid. The Zips will host West Virginia at 7 p.m. on Friday at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field. The Zips faced West Virginia earlier this season and defeated them 1-0.

Some felt that West Virginia was a program that was going to have the talent to compete with Akron. That has yet to be the case. Akron has yet to lose to the Mountaineers since entering the Mid-American Conference.

This MAC tournament is competitive, with each team striving for a chance to play for the College Cup in the NCAA tournament this season. soccer

The Zips will likely receive a bid to the national tournament, but the only way to guarantee a spot, and a high seed in it, is by winning the MAC and securing the automatic bid. Each of the four teams have their own challenges to overcome, and three of them have their eyes set on beating the Akron Zips, the bullies of the conference.

West Virginia:

Coming off a 3-3 tie over Bowling Green to secure the final spot in the MAC tournament, the Mountaineers of West Virginia (7-6-5, 2-2-2 MAC) look to upset the Akron Zips this Friday on Akron’s home field. Although their record does not show it, the Mountaineers have competed in every match this season.

WVU, early on in the season, defeated Indiana in a double overtime (5-4). They suffered close losses to Akron (1-0) and Saint John’s (1-0). They also lost to Michigan in overtime (2-1) and Penn State (2-1), who have come out to be top 25 teams.

Two players to look out for during the tournament are forwards Andy Bevin and Majed Osman. Throughout the season, Osman and Bevin have scored six and nine goals, respectively. They have dominated the scoring for the Mountaineers. Both players are very aggressive on the pitch and are urged to make plays for their team.

Western Michigan:

In the battle for the MAC championship, the Western Michigan Broncos (8-8-1, 4-1-1 MAC) will be heading into the tournament as the No. 2 seed. They are coming off a 2-1 double overtime loss to the Akron Zips over the weekend, which gave the Zips both the MAC championship and the No. 1 seed for the tournament.

The Broncos will be the favorites Friday as they take on Hartwick in the MAC semifinal. The Broncos defeated Hartwick 1-0 in New York the last time the two teams met earlier this season.

While Western Michigan struggled in their out-of-conference play, losing their first four matches of the season, the Broncos ended their non-conference play 4-3 and dominated the MAC, winning every game except last week’s loss to the Zips and a tie against West Virginia.

Do not underestimate this team, as they have looked particularly strong, ending their season winning five of their last six matches.

The player to watch on the Broncos is goalie Chase Rau. This season Rau has played in all 17 matches and has racked up 53 saves and four clean sheets. Look for Rau to be a game-changer in the MAC tournament.


The Hawks of Hartwick (5-8-4, 3-2-1 MAC) ended their season with a 1-0 loss at Bucknell University, but defeated Northern Illinois in double overtime to secure a surprising No. 3 seed over West Virginia going into the MAC tournament.

While Hartwick’s record does not look all that impressive, they did face some tough competition this season, with a loss to Syracuse (2-0) along with a close 2-3 overtime loss to Tulsa.

Hartwick, however, had a three-game winning streak, defeating the University of Massachusetts (3-1), West Virginia (1-0) and Akron (2-0). If Hartwick can dig deep, as they did midseason, you cannot count the Hawks out, even though their record may be weak.

The man to watch for the Hawks is goalie Mateo Munarriz. Munarriz has started all 17 games for Hartwick with 50 saves with a 72.5 save percentage, along with giving up just over one goal per game at 1.04. Look for Munarriz to make it very difficult to score upon, as he also has four clean-sheets this season as well; one of which was against the Zips.