“The loss of former Zips forward and current MLS midfielder Sinisia Ubiparipovic was first considered to be a significant loss for the University of Akron soccer program. Ubiparipovic scored 24 goals during his final two seasons with the Zips, leading the team in the scoring category both seasons.””
The loss of former Zips forward and current MLS midfielder Sinisia Ubiparipovic was first considered to be a significant loss for the University of Akron soccer program.
Ubiparipovic scored 24 goals during his final two seasons with the Zips, leading the team in the scoring category both seasons.
What’s worse is that scoring was already down significantly last season. The Zips scored 35 goals last season, down from 68 the year before. Without Ubiparipovic, who also tallied 14 assists the past two years, and Ashley Kozicki, who scored a team-high seven goals last season, has also used up his eligibilty.
Enter redshirt freshman Steve Zakuani. Zakuani has scored three goals in the spring this season, including one during Friday’s night scrimmage against the Cleveland City Stars, a professional club team playing in their first season in the United Soccer League.
Zakuani’s game is much like Ubiparipovic’s: explosive.
Steve is a difference maker, coach Caleb Porter said. He is going to have a very good career here. He is a freshman and he has a lot to learn, but he also has some things you don’t see every day. He’s a constant threat.
Porter said Zakuani will be a major part of the Zips scoring threat next season, adding that he’s a perfect fit for their offensive system.
He gives us someone that can stretch a defense and take defenders on and score goals. He’s proven that he can score and that he’s tough to stop. He makes our team better.
Porter also looks for Zakuani to be a go-to scorer much like Ubiparipovic was last season and Ross McKenzie was in the 2005 campaign.
Zakuani, a London native, will also benefit from the new scheme that Porter has implemented this spring. Porter is trying a 3-5-2 attack, which adds an extra midfielder to the mix. Porter said that the different scheme may not be a permanent one, but they’ve had considerable success so far with the scheme.
It may be that we play both (the 4-4-2 and 3-5-2) and we may just play one, Porter said. I’m not sure yet. The spring gives us a chance to experiment with some things and that’s why we wanted to give the 3-5-2 a look.
Porter is also counting on some of his highly touted recruiting class to pick up some of the scoring the Zips lost.
From a recruiting standpoint, Porter said, what we were looking to do is bring in players that can help us be more dangerous in the attack and we’ve also addressed this spring with the current players we have here.
The Zips also have Pablo Moreira, Steve Kalan and Matt Tutich returning to the pitch next season. The trio combined for 14 goals last season.
Although scoring may be an issue next fall, being scored on certainly will not.
Junior goalkeeper Evan Bush, a two-year starter, is already gearing up for an even better season than he’s had in the previous two.
Bush has allowed 29 goals the past two seasons despite playing all but 26 minutes in his career.
The 6-foot-4 goalie caught the attention of City Stars assistant coach Jake DeClute.
(He’s) excellent, DeClute said. We saw him play last summer and we rated him really high. He’s a terrific player and I think he has a good career ahead of him if he stays healthy.
Porter said Bush has been working with assistant coach Dave Giffard on staying mentally focused, while Bush has also been working on making his dives more efficient.
It’s hard to stay focused, knowing that you might get one chance out of the blue, Porter said. That’s a part of it too, staying mentally focused and even-keeled and just be ready for that one time. I think he struggled with that on occasion but now he’s figuring it out.
“” #1.1362048:349852241.jpg:evan bush done.jpg:Goalkeeper Evan Bush impressed the Cleveland City Stars with three saves on the way to a 2-0 win.:Jeff Harwell / Zips Sports Photography”