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AKRON, Ohio – A late goal by Scott Caldwell lifted The No. 2 University of Akron men's soccer team to a 1-0 victory over Western Michigan in the final match of the regular season Saturday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
It was a fitting Senior Night finish for the team captain, who one-timed a rebounded shot by Alfred Koroma past the keeper from 10 yards out to break the scoreless tie in the 86th minute. It was also a fair result for the Zips (15-1-2, 7-0-0 Mid-American Conference) who out-shot the Broncos 23-2 overall – including 16-0 in the second half – and 9-0 on frame.
As the No. 1 seed, Akron, which clinched its eighth-consecutive MAC regular season championship last weekend, will host No. 4 seed Bowling Green (8-8-3, 3-3-1 MAC) in the second semifinal match Friday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field, starting at 7:30 p.m.
No. 2 seed Northern Illinois (6-9-3, 4-2-1 MAC) will face No. 3 West Virginia (9-5-2, 4-2-1) in the opener Friday at 4 p.m. The MAC Championship will be played on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 4:30 p.m.
Despite the lopsided shot advantage, the Zips and Broncos (11-6-2, 3-3-1) were scoreless late into the match due in part to a deep and organized WMU defense. But Akron, which earned 10 corner kicks to Western Michigan's two, was persistent with its attack and broke through late.
Robbie Derschang initiated the scoring sequence with a run down the left side of the field before crossing it to Koroma, who was waiting on the near left flank. The true freshman made a quick turn and fired from close range but Western Michigan goalkeeper Sean Lewis, who finished the night with eight saves, was there to punch it out.
Caldwell saw his chance and rushed in to redirect the ball past the keeper for the seventh game-winning goal of his career and his third of the season. He is currently second on the team with nine goals overall, which represents a career high.
With the win, the Zips swept the MAC regular season for the fifth consecutive year and are 31-0 versus the league in conference play since 2008. Akron also extended its unbeaten streak to 13 matches and its winning streak to 12.
While limiting WMU to just a pair of first-half shot attempts, UA notched its 14th shutout of the season, which is tied for the third-highest total in school history. The Zips have allowed just one goal in their last 1,181:30 of play, dating back to Sept. 14.
Tickets for the 2012 MAC Tournament are on sale now and can be purchased on-line at GoZips.com/Tickets, on the phone by calling 1-888-99-AKRON (25766) or by visiting the C.P. and Cornelia S. Chima Athletics Ticket Office at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field (located at the southwest corner of the venue, near Gate 1, at the corner of East Exchange and South Union streets).
Zips Notebook: Caldwell and the Zips' other three seniors – Chad Barson, David Meves and Thomas Schmitt – were each recognized prior to the start of Saturday's match ... Akron finished the regular season with a record of 7-0-1 at home and is 52-1-6 at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field since 2008 ... The Zips, who improved to 110-3-4 when scoring first since 2006, have out-scored their last 11 opponents by a count of 30-1 ... UA has yet to trail in a game at home this season.