The New Gold Standard: Men's Soccer Captures National Title

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The University of Akron men's soccer team captured the school's first team national championship in any sport on Sunday, using a late goal to defeat Louisville 1-0 at Harder Stadium in the NCAA College Cup. The third-seeded Zips closed out their historic season with a 22-1-2 record, while the top-seeded Cardinals suffered their only loss of the year, finishing 20-1-3.

Akron, which was appearing in the national championship game for the second time in as many seasons, broke a scoreless tie in the 79th minute with a corner kick goal by Scott Caldwell. Anthony Ampaipitakwong provided service from the left side of the field. After a volley, Caldwell had his first shot deflected off a wall of defenders. But the sophomore collected the rebound and sent the ball into the upper right-hand corner of the net from 15 yards.

Lousiville, which was playing in its first national title contest, threatened to punch in the equalizer with a flurry of attempts in the final 1:30 of regulation. One shot was blocked by UA defender Chad Barson and Zips' goalkeepr David Meves stood strong as the final seconds ticked away and the celebration began.

"I'm not usually at a loss for words, but in some ways I am," said UA head coach Caleb Porter. "I am proud of my team. It's been a long journey. It started Dec. 14 after a bitter, painful loss to Virginia last year, which ended on one kick. For these guys to recover from that; move on and work even harder is an absolute tremendous credit to these guys. They have been hungry all year; dug deep, kept going, kept fighting and refused to lose.

"This team has a rare combination of talent and winning qualities. When you put the two together, it's a powerful thing. That's why we won the national championship - the combination of those two things."

The first half featured an entertaining back-and-forth affair with Akron controlling pace early on.

In the fifth minute, Michael Nanchoff provided great service on a cross from the left flank that Darren Mattocks got a foot on, but the powerful blast sailed wide.

A frantic flurry by Louisville followed in the ninth minute - sparked by the game's first corner kick - that saw a shot by Cardinals' midfielder Charlie Campbell bang off the right post. Louisville recovered the ball and fired another shot but Paolo DelPiccolo's attempt went wide.

With the Cardinals pushing forward in the 26th minute, a cross by Nick Deleon left Dylan Mares in a one-on-one situation with Meves. But the sophomore netminder slid to his knees to make a huge save.

Meves came through again in the 44th minute on a direct free kick from DelPiccolo from distance. Meves dove to his left to gobble up the attempt. In all, Louisville posted a narrow advantage on shots, 5-4, in the opening half.

Kofi Sarkodie opened the second half with rip from the right flank that was stopped by Louisville goalkeeper Andre Boudreaux in the 49th minute. The Cardinals answered with a free-kick opportunity one minute later but Meves was there to snag a header by Colin Rolfe.

A series of passes left Caldwell with a good look from 20 yards near the right side of the box in the 64th minute, but the sophomore couldn't quite curve in the ball. Then, two minutes later, a touch pass near mid-field from Anthony Ampaipitakwong found a pair of streaking Zips' players as Darren Mattocks and Darlington Nagbe were left with just the keeper in their sights.

Mattocks quickly pushed the ball to Nagbe, who tried to slip the ball in far post but missed wide.

The Zips kept pressing and had another good look when Korb made a run down the left flank before finding Mattocks, who made the turn and fired the ball into the hands of Boudreaux in the 71st minute. Akron, which was clearly in control in the second half, continued to apply pressure with a barrage of attempts before finally breaking through.

Akron is the third team from the Mid-American Conference to win an NCAA national championship, with Western Michigan's men's cross country program doing so in 1964 and '65.

Details regarding a welcome back celebration will be announced on GoZips.com, once team travel arrangements have been finalized.

Fans interested in purchasing an Akron Zips National Champions t-shirt can do so in a variety of ways. The shirt will be available for pre-order on Monday at www.shopakronzips.com, the official web site of the Akron Athletics Team Shop, and will be available for purchase at the Team Shop at InfoCision Stadium - Summa Field and University Bookstore on Tuesday. For information on all soccer merchandise, please contact the UA Bookstore at (330) 972-7624.

2010 College Cup All-Tournament Team
Sophomore Defender, Zarek Valentin, Akron
Junior Midfielder, Darlington Nagbe, Akron
Junior Defender, Kofi Sarkodie, Akron
Junior Midfielder, Michael Nanchoff, Akron
Senior Midfielder, Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Akron
Sophomore Midfielder, Scott Caldwell, Akron
Senior Midfielder/Defender, Charlie Campbell, Louisville
Junior Forward, Colin Rolfe, Louisville
Junior Defender, Austin Berry, Louisville
Junior Goalkeeper, Andre Boudreaux, Louisville
Senior Forward, Justin Meram, Michigan

Most Outstanding Offensive Player
Sophomore Midfielder, Scott Caldwell, Akron

Most Outstanding Defensive Player
Junior Defender, Kofi Sarkodie, Akron