“An unlikely goal from an unlikely player led to an upset loss for the University of Akron’s fifth-seeded soccer team. Northwestern reserve midfielder Geoff Fallon scored his first goal of the season and the game’s only goal in the 61st minute to oust the Zips in the NCAA tournament round of 16 Sunday in Evanston, Ill amidst difficult weather conditions.””
An unlikely goal from an unlikely player led to an upset loss for the University of Akron’s fifth-seeded soccer team.
Northwestern reserve midfielder Geoff Fallon scored his first goal of the season and the game’s only goal in the 61st minute to oust the Zips in the NCAA tournament round of 16 Sunday in Evanston, Ill amidst difficult weather conditions.
We controlled the run in the second half, but this sport comes down to who wins the moments around their offensive goal, UA head coach Caleb Porter said. I commend their team for doing what they needed to do to win.
Akron (17-2-4) entered the game as the fourth-ranked team in the country in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America and was ranked as high as No. 2 throughout the season. Northwestern (15-4-3) will play No. 12-seeded North Carolina Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Zips’ 17 wins are the second most for a single season in program history and advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament for the third time in the last five seasons. It reached the round of 16 in 2005 and 2003 before beating Ohio State 1-0 in overtime Wednesday.
It was a great season – one best in the program’s history, Porter said. Once the sting wears off, I hope the players and the community will understand just how successful the season was. This season is going to pave the way for future years. We fell just short and we’ll continue to chase the national championship.
The Zips, despite earning a top eight seed in the tournament, were forced to play at the unseeded Wildcats because the NCAA’s men’s soccer committee decided Lee Jackson Field was unplayable after they moved UA’s second round game against Ohio State to St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School.
I think we had some things going against us, Porter said. It is certainly frustrating. We did everything in our power to put ourselves in the best position and make a run at the national championship.
The game was played at Lakeside Field, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, under weather conditions that included freezing rain and wind gusts upwards of 20 miles per hour.
The Zips played against the wind in the first half, battling to a scoreless tie. In the second half, Porter said he felt confident with his team playing with the wind.
There are a lot of conditions that can affect our sport and certainly field conditions is one of them, but probably the biggest condition that affects soccer the most is wind, Porter said. It actually dictates where the ball goes. Certainly gusty winds at 30 miles per hour changes the game and both teams dealt with it.
Fallon’s goal came with the Wildcats shooting into the gusts. After the Zips had dominated possession for the first 15 minutes of the second half, Northwestern cleared the ball out of UA’s offensive third, Jack Hillgard’s through ball found Fallon’s foot for the goal.
When he shot the ball it looked like a harmless shot in the first few moments, Porter said. It was helped by the wind. It floated into far corner where the wind blew it in. It was an opportunistic goal.
Akron had opportunities, out shooting Northwestern 12-2 in the second period. Ben Zemanski hit the cross bar on the Zip’s best scoring opportunity. Once the Wildcats scored they used an extra defender, which held the Zips from scoring. Harmon Trophy Semifinalist Steve Zakuani was limited to a single shot in the contest.
It was a very opportune time for them to score, Porter said. If that game continues, with the way we were playing, it was only a matter of time before we scored. But the goal now allowed them to sit even deeper. We still got chances but we didn’t finish.