Women's soccer optimistic for next season

By: Parker Perry

Creating one of the toughest schedules in the history of the program, UA’s Head Coach Chris Pfau was set on helping his program take the next step, and the women’s soccer team came into the season ready to compete.

Opening up in Ann Arbor to play the University of Michigan, it appeared that the program did take that next step. Beating Michigan 0-1 thanks to sophomore forward Kyarah Foushee’s goal, Akron’s win has been debated as the most prestigious of victories the team has ever had. Everything appeared to be shaping up nicely for Akron. However, setbacks did ensue quickly after the emotional win.

Akron lost their next three games and had to travel to Florida twice, the first for a match against Florida International University, whom they fell to, 1-0. The Zips returned to Akron to play Michigan State in a match which did not go in their favor, resulting in a 0-5 loss.

Falling below .500, things did not get any easier for the Zips, who traveled south again to compete in the South Florida Tournament. Akron once again fell in a heartbreaker, downed by South Florida 1-0.

Despite all this, Akron did not give up and was able to reach 6-6 before their non-conference schedule ended. They beat Florida Atlantic (game two of the South Florida Tournament) and Eastern Illinois at home.

Akron was picked to finish second in the Mid-American Conference East division. Their first two games seemed to prove that the prediction may have been underwhelming. Akron fought tooth and nail against the two-time defending MAC Champion Central Michigan, ending in a 0-0 draw, and two days later beating Eastern Michigan 3-0.

One of the strong points of the Zips was the defense and goalkeeper Jeny Wolbert. Wolbert recorded eight shutouts over the season and had four shutouts in the first seven games.

Akron also found itself in first place in the East division the following week as they split a weekend road trip. Everything was going great for the team until they traveled to Ball State and Toledo for the toughest road trip of the season.

Akron had leads in both games, but late goals disrupted the rhythm and led to a loss against Ball State, 2-1, and a tie with the ultimate No. 1 seed Toledo, 2-2. Gaining only one point that weekend was not enough for the Zips to hold on to the top spot in the division. This would turn out to be the last time Akron was the leader.

Though the late goals hurt the team, what really devastated their chances at winning the MAC East title were their games against Kent State and Buffalo. Akron needed wins in both matches to keep them in the race, but they lost both, eliminating them from the race and creating a must-win situation in the last game of the season.

Akron welcomed Ohio to Cub-Cadet field and handed them a 1-0 overtime loss. The win for UA meant that they clinched third place in the MAC East and a playoff spot. The victory meant a lot to the seniors of the team.

“We just wanted to stick together” senior Rachel Phillip said after the game. “We needed to pull through.”

They did just that, picking up the seventh seed (of eight) for the Mid-American Conference Tournament. The seeding sent them to Mount Pleasant to take on the aforementioned Central Michigan Chippewas, where Akron’s season ended, as they were unable to fight back from an early 2-0 deficit. The match ended 2-1.

Akron finished the season with a 7-9-2 record (4-5-2 MAC). Pfau and his program will look to improve next year after losing just six players and returning six starters.