AKRON, Ohio – The top-seeded and No. 1 nationally-ranked University of Akron men's soccer team used a pair of second-half goals to defeat second-seeded Northern Illinois, 2-0, in the Mid-American Conference Tournament final Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
Saad Abdul-Salaam and Aodhan Quinn each scored in a three-minute span as the Zips (17-1-2) captured their ninth MAC Tournament Championship overall and fifth in the last six seasons.
The result also pushed Akron's consecutive conference unbeaten streak to 47 games, which represents the longest such run in NCAA history. Since the start of the 2007 season, UA has gone 44-0-3 against MAC opponents, including postseason play.
The win put the finishing stamp to a body of work that the Zips are hoping will earn them a Top 4 seed for the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Akron won't have to wait long to find out as the NCAA Tournament brackets will be released Monday at 5:30 p.m.
Johnny J's Pub, located in the valley at 1282 Weathervane Lane, will host an official Akron Zips NCAA Selection Show Watch Party starting at 5 p.m. Fans are encouraged to come to this free event to support the Zips as the NCAA postseason picture is revealed.
Similar to Friday night's semifinal against Bowling Green, the Zips dictated play throughout the contest – out-shooting Northern Illinois 23-4, including an 11-0 margin on goal, and posting a 9-2 advantage in corner kicks. Also similar to Friday's match, Akron scored a pair of goals in a flash to put away the Huskies (7-10-3).
After playing to a scoreless draw in the first half, Abdul-Salaam gave UA the lead at the 72:26 mark. From near midfield, Scott Caldwell connected with Eric Stevenson, who followed with a through ball to spring Abdul-Salaam in the near right flank. The sophomore striker quickly gained possession and slipped a shot past NIU goalkeeper Jordan Godsey, who finished with nine saves on the night, for the first goal of his career.
Then, less than three minutes later, Quinn finished a rebounded shot by Caldwell to provide Akron with some breathing room. It was the fourth goal of the season for Quinn and the 10th assist for Caldwell, who recorded a combined four helpers over the two-game MAC Tournament.
Akron earned a number of scoring chances in the first half but was kept off the board due to the exceptional play by Godsey. The NIU keeper made four stops in the first 45 minutes of play, including a spectacular leaping save on a shot by Caldwell that was headed for the upper right 90.
The Zips, who posted their 16th shutout of the season, have won their last 14 games and are unbeaten in their 15. UA has earned a clean sheet in each of its last six matches and has allowed just goal in its last 1,361 minutes of play.
Zips Notebook: Chad Barson, Caldwell, Quinn and Wil Trapp were named to the 2012 MAC All-Tournament Team ... Akron out-shot Bowling Green and Northern Illinois a combined 56-6 (20-1 on goal) in the semifinal and final rounds of the MAC Tournament ... The Zips are 5-0 in MAC finals under seventh-year head coach Caleb Porter ... UA has yet to trail in a home game this season and has done so just six times since 2008 ... Akron is 112-3-4 when scoring first and 90-1-3 when it scores two or more goals since 2006.