A Successful Year For Zips Athletics


Zips swim team, Ellie Nebraska, Paloma Marrero, Paulina Nogaj celebrate the teams fifth-straight MAC Championship. Photo courtesy of Nestor Vargas. (Photo courtesy of The University of Akron)

By Erika Newcome, Sports, Arts and Entertainment Editor

The past year for The University of Akron sports programs has been filled with excitement, change and heartbreak.

In November, the Zips football team earned the MAC East Title after their 24-12 Wagon Wheel Victory over rival, Kent State. The Zips then began preparing to face off against MAC West Champions, The University of Toledo Rockets.

On Sat., Dec. 2 the teams headed to Detroit, MI to compete in the 2017 Mid-American Conference at Ford Field. Upon a heartbreaking first half, the Zips continued to fall to the Rockets, losing 45-28. Following the loss, the team focused their sights on the upcoming Boca Raton Bowl. Coming into the match the Zips (7-7 overall) knew there was work to be done to beat Florida Atlantic University (11-3 overall). However, the four second-half touchdowns made by FAU proved to be too much for Akron to overcome, losing 50-3 to Florida.

“Overall, I thought the season went pretty well. We were able to accomplish most of our goals, despite the many injuries along the way. As a team, we were able to overcome a lot of true adversity and made the best of it – winning the MAC East Title, going to the MAC Championships, and a Bowl game,” team captain, AJ Coney said.  

In 2018 the Akron Football team will look for redemption, as the team is set to return, 57 lettermen, including 15 previous starters.

Second-seeded and fourth-rated, UA’s men soccer team began the quest for their 14th Mid-American Conference Championship title in Nov. 2017. Following a pair of second-half goals made by seniors, Sam Gainford, and Manuel Cordeiro, the fourth-rated Zips team was led to a 3-1 victory, over top-seeded Western Michigan. Awarding the Zips (16-3-1), with their 14th MAC Tournament title and 32nd NCAA Tournament berth.

The Zips began the NCAA Championship beating out, No. 22 Seattle, and No. 13 Wisconsin. Following these wins, No. 3 Akron headed into the Elite Eight Showdown matching off against No. 6 Louisville. Following a victory over Louisville, the Zips punched their ticket to its fifth-ever College Cup.

The Zips continued their quest to capture it’s second-ever NCAA Championship, facing off against ninth-seeded and No. 1 Stanford in the semifinal round of the NCAA College Cup. Unfortunately, after a goal during each half, top-seeded Stanford was victorious over the Zips.

“There will always be room for the team to improve because in soccer there is will be times we have to have problem solvers on the field. For next season, we need to continue to work on our fitness levels, so we can begin the fall season strong,”  redshirt junior, Joe Korb said.

Following the outstanding season, the University’s men’s soccer team was recognized for their outstanding 2017 campaign –  as the Zips ranked No. 3 nationally in the final United Soccer Coaches, and TopDrawerSoccer.com Top 25 polls of the season.

“I’m happy with the team’s progress from last fall to this point in the spring season. We graduated a lot of 3-4 year starters at the end of the season, which will give a lot more players an opportunity to fill roles for the upcoming fall season,”  Korb said.

Head coach, Jared Embik recently announced the team will be gaining 13 new, extremely talented players during the off-season.

The young UA’s women basketball team had a few unfortunate games, ending the season with a 9-21 record. Regardless of the outcome of the past season, the team is determined to reclaim its spot at the top of the Mid-American Conference under the guidance of head coach, Jodi Kest.

Following the 2016-2017 season, the Zips introduced John Groce as the new men’s basketball coach. The particularly young team began the past season victorious over Cleveland State, 67-57. The team traveled to the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Classic, facing off against USC, Princeton, and Davidson.

The team was unsuccessful at capturing a road win, until February when the Zips defeated Bowling Green, 81-79. The team continued to finish the season strong, as they defeated Kent State with a thrilling 67-65 victory. Following the win over the Golden Flashes, Akron traveled to Kalamazoo, MI to compete in the first-round of the MAC tournament.

The No. 11 Zips brought home a thrilling 79-78 victory against the No. 6 Western Michigan Broncos. Following this win, Akron advanced to the quarterfinal round of the MAC Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena. Led by Coach Groce, the team traveled to Cleveland to face off against No. 3 Eastern Michigan. The Zips ended the match shooting nearly 40 percent from the field, but unfortunately, that was not enough to stop third-seeded Eastern Michigan.

This summer, the young men’s basketball team is set to compete in the 2018 Cayman Islands Classic Basketball Tournament. The team is set to join eight other colleges in the prestigious tournament, which will be held at John Gray Gymnasium just miles away from the world famous, Seven Mile Beach.

In fall of 2017, the Zips Swimming and Diving team were predicted to capture their fifth straight MAC Title, by the league’s coaches during a pre-season poll. The Zips began the season strong, victorious over Youngstown State, and Dennison, also registering a Dual-Meet Victory in Miami (OH).

During the last meet of the regular season, the Zips competed in the prestigious Shamrock Invitational. Akron’s swimming and diving team broke four pool records and now holds four records at the Rolfs Aquatic Center Pool. Akron swimmers additionally claimed victories in two races, placing in the top-three in five of the six events. Following much success throughout the invitational, the Zips placed second with a score of 842.

In Feb., the Zips competed in the 2017-18 Mid-American Conference Championships at the Ohio University Aquatic Center. Following a dominating performance throughout the four-day event, Akron captured its fifth straight Mid-American Conference Championship.

“I have been competing with this team since our first MAC win in 2014 when we didn’t know we even had a chance to win. Now, we are undefeated for the fifth time,”  senior swimmer, Alisa Typsin, said.

Following the championship, two Zips received an invitation to compete in the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship – senior, Paloma Marrero Munoz and freshman, Paulina Nogaj. On the final day of competition, Munoz had back-to-back record-setting performances earning All-America Honors during the NCAA Championships.

Following the tremendous success of the past season, Akron’s swim team received recognition in the pool as the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCCA) awarded the Zips with their first top-25 in program history. As the team was ranked No. 24 by CSCCA, in the latest team ratings.

“This may have been my last season, but I’m still really excited for the next season,” Typsin said.  

Next season, the Zips swim and diving team will look to earn their sixth-straight MAC Championship under the supervision of Head Coach, Brian Persise.

Throughout the 2017-18 season, Akron sports teams overcame many obstacles and adversity to become MAC Champions, earn MAC East Titles, and win numerous games against top-seeded competitors. In addition to the success of these varsity teams, UA recently announced the return of the beloved, varsity baseball team. In addition to the creation of a varsity women’s lacrosse team, and esports team, which will all be active in 2018. For more information on UA sports visit www.gozips.com.