Zips open up MAC play at home this weekend

By: Chris Coon

This Saturday, the No. 3 University of Akron men’s soccer team will open up Mid-American Conference play against Northern Illinois at home.

The Zips (7-0-2) will enter the game on Saturday 1-0 versus MAC opponents. The Huskies, who were ranked No. 18 in the nation in last week’s NSCAA ranking, dropped out of the polls this week after a 2-1 double overtime loss to Buffalo.

Northern Illinois (8-2) is 0-1 in MAC play, with the loss coming from Buffalo. Before the loss, the Huskies were riding a two-game winning streak, with wins coming from Drake University (1-0) and UC Davis (1-0). On the season, the Huskies are 5-0 on the road and 2-1 at home.

The Huskies have played somewhat of a tough schedule, defeating 2010 College Cup semifinalist Michigan (1-0) and ten-time national champion Saint

Louis (2-1) early in the season.

The only other loss Northern Illinois has suffered this season is a 2-1 overtime loss to Xavier on Sept. 16 in the Northwestern Lakeside Classic.

Photo courtesy of Charles Mader

Offensively, the Huskies are led by sophomore midfielder Gael Rivera and freshman forward Paul Hogan with three goals each, while sophomore midfielder Karim Darbaki is tied for second on the team with two goals.

Overall, Northern Illinois has out-shot their opponents 121-108, while out-scoring opposing teams 15-6.

Defensively, Northern Illinois has recorded a total of six shutouts while holding their opponents to a 0.57 goals-against average.

Junior goalkeeper Jordan Godsey has started all 10 games for Huskies while posting a total of 28 saves with a .824 save percentage.

The Huskies are led by third-year Head Coach Eric Luzzi, who has a career record of 27-16-3. Luzzi is 0-2 versus the Zips in his three seasons at NIU.

The Huskies will be the Zips’ first MAC opponent they face at home in the 2011 season. The Zips are 17-3-1 all-time against the Huskies, while Head Coach Caleb Porter has a record of 6-1-2 all-time.

Akron’s leading scorer on the season is sophomore forward Darren Mattocks, who has seven goals on the season in eight games played. Junior midfielder Scott Caldwell is second on the team in scoring with four goals, while leading the team with seven assists.

As a team, the Zips are outscoring their opponents 22-3, along with outshooting them 142-74. Akron’s opponents as a whole have a goals-against average of 2.29.

Defensively, Akron has held their opposition to one or fewer goals this season, while ranking four in the NCAA team goals-against average with a 0.312 mark. The Zips are just one of four teams in the NCAA (Creighton, Leigh, UCONN) to have allowed three or fewer goals on the season.

UA is also tied for fifth in the NCAA in shutout percentage (.670) while posting a total of six shutouts in the Zips’ first nine games of the season.

Zips junior goalkeeper David Meves has logged a total of 866 minutes while starting all nine games for the Zips this season. Meves also has a total of 21 saves with a save percentage of .875.

Porter is closing in on 100 wins, now sitting at 97 career victories as head coach. The six-year coach will be the fastest coach to reach the century mark in UA men’s soccer’s 56-year history.

Porter will enter play on Saturday with an overall record of 97-13-12 (.844) and will become the fourth UA head coach to reach 100 wins, following Ken Lolla (160 wins in 13 seasons from 1993-’05), Steve Parker (139 wins in 11 seasons from 1982-’92) and Akron soccer founder Stu Parry (118 wins in 15 seasons from 1955-’69).

With the new NSCAA rankings out this past Tuesday, the Zips have now moved up one spot in the polls to No. 3 overall in the nation. The two other teams above UA are Maryland at No. 2 and UCONN at No. 1. All three teams have yet lose a game so far in this season.

Game time for Saturday is slated for 7:30 p.m. at First Energy Stadium-Cub Cadet Field.