Soccer team continues success, awaits chance to play Crew

“The University of Akron’s men’s soccer team is looking forward to success in the 2009 season after coming off of a year where they reached the sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. Head coach Caleb Porter is optimistic that the team will do well even considering the loss of three seniors, as well as the leading scorer in the nation, Steve Zakuani.”

The University of Akron’s men’s soccer team is looking forward to success in the 2009 season after coming off of a year where they reached the sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament.

Head coach Caleb Porter is optimistic that the team will do well even considering the loss of three seniors, as well as the leading scorer in the nation, Steve Zakuani.

Last season Steve Zakuani scored 20 goals. Coach Porter says that this year the team will need to replace these goals, but not necessarily with just one person.

Last year we were a little bit of a one-headed monster. This year I think that we’re going to be just as strong, solid and balanced on both sides of the ball, said Porter.

Porter feels that it will be more difficult for teams to match up against the Zips because instead of stopping one person, they will now have to stop four or five guys.

The Zips soccer team will be very deep thanks to the recruiting in the past year. The recruits are part of the top ranked recruiting class in the nation.

The class features seven All-Americans as well as six players with national team experience.

Players with U.S. national team experience include midfielder Ben Speas, defender Zarek Valentin, defender Chad Barson, midfielder Scott Caldwell and goalkeeper David Meves.

Yoram Mwila, a forward from Lusaka, Zambia, was the captain of the U-17 Zambian national team and is a current member of the U-20 team.

The team is rounded out by four recruits from the state of Ohio in midfielder Brandon Silva, forward Matt Mason, midfielder Eric Stevenson and goalkeeper Anthony Ponikvar.

Coach Porter says that, we’ve reloaded and we’re not rebuilding.

Five members of this year’s recruiting class have joined the team early for practices and have also logged minutes in the preseason, which has been a successful one.

The preseason schedule finds the Zips paired against five teams that made an NCAA tournament appearance last year.

Thus far the Zips have fared well winning three games and tying one of the four games played.

In the first game the Zips blanked Oakland with a score of 2-0.

In the second game, the Zips offense and defense both proved to be a tough opponent as they beat Michigan with a score of 4-0. Michael Nanchoff, who was redshirted his sophomore year, scored twice in the offensive display.

A 3-0 win over Wake Forest improved the Zips to 3-0 on the preseason. Teal Bunbury, Michael Nanchoff and incoming recruit Scott Caldwell combined for the three goals.

In the fourth game, the Zips came back to tie North Carolina midway through the first half to remain undefeated in the preseason. Darlington Nagbe scored the goal which was his third goal of the spring.

Porter said that during the preseason the coaches are, evaluating all the new pieces to the puzzle and seeing how they are going to fit in.

The reason for such a tough preseason is to measure the team against tough opponents that they may see in the future and to lay the groundwork for next fall said Porter.

The final two games of spring will be against Indiana and the 2008 MLS Cup Champs, The Columbus Crew.

It will be fun. It will be a good chance for the fans to see our pro team, said Porter, But we’re not really scared to play anybody.

The game against the Crew will be the last game of the preseason and is set to take place Sunday, April 26 at 5 p.m. at Lee Jackson Field.