AKRON, Ohio – The fifth-seeded University of Akron men's soccer team will host 12th-seeded Creighton in the third round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field. The Zips and Bluejays will kick off at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Akron has won its last 15 matches and is unbeaten in its last 16. During its current win streak, UA has out-scored its opponents, 36-2.
The Zips are 10-0-1 on their home field this season and have been defeated just once at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field in the last five years. Since 2008, UA has gone 55-1-6 (.935) at home, including a record of 8-0-1 during the NCAA Tournament.
Match #22: Akron Zips (18-1-2) vs. Creighton Bluejays (16-3-2)
Date/Time: Nov. 25, 2012 • 4:30 p.m. ET
Venue: FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field • Akron, Ohio
Match Notes: NCAA Tournament Third Round: Akron vs. Creighton (PDF)
Televison: None • Radio: Fox Sports 1350 AM (WARF)
Live Stats: NCAA.com • Video Stream: MAC-Sports.com
• Limited reserved tickets – both chair back and bleacher back seats – are available for $15. General admission ($10) and UA student tickets ($1) are also on sale.
• Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased on-line at GoZips.com/tickets. Fans can also purchase tickets Sunday at Gate 1 of FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field, starting at 3 p.m.
On The Air
• Sunday's match will be broadcast locally on Fox Sports 1350 AM (WARF) and on-line via the iHeartRadio app. Longtime Voice-of-the-Zips Steve French and former Zips' All-American Simon Spelling will have the call.
• A free video stream with play-by-play by Ian Tayek will also be available on MAC-Sports.com.
Akron In The Round Of 16
• The Zips are making their fifth-straight appearance in the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament. Akron is 2-2-0 in the Round of 16 since 2008, including a perfect 2-0 mark on its home field.
• UA defeated Stanford (2-0) and Indiana (2-1) at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field in the third round in 2009 and 2010, respectively, en route to back-to-back national final appearances.
• UA's quest to reach the College Cup for a third straight season ended in the NCAA Third Round a year ago in a 1-0 setback at Charlotte.
• Akron's only other Third Round defeat under seventh-year head coach Caleb Porter came in a controversial 2008 match-up at Northwestern. The Zips suffered a 1-0 loss to the Wildcats in a game that was originally schedule to be played in Akron but moved to Evanston, Ill., by the NCAA Committee due to unplayable field conditions at the old Lee R. Jackson Soccer Field.
• The Zips are 2-2-1 all-time in the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament in its current format.
• The Bluejays, who finished the regular season ranked No. 8 in the coaches (NSCAA) poll, have won their last 11 matches and are unbeaten in their last 12. Three of their wins during that run have come in overtime with two being decided in double-overtime. Moreover, five of their last six wins have been determined by one goal.
• Creighton, which is ranked No. 11 in the RPI, is 1-1-1 versus NSCAA top-25 teams this season, including last week's 4-2 win over No. 21 Washington in the NCAA's second round.
• CU is making its 20th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 21 years. The Bluejays advanced all the way to the NCAA semifinal in 2011 where they were defeated by Charlotte in a penalty kick shootout.
• All three of Creighton's losses have come against teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament, including No. 8-seeded Saint Louis (3-1), No. 11-seeded Tulsa (2-0) and Old Dominion (2-1).
• The Bluejays won the regular-season and tournament titles in the Missouri Valley Conference for the second straight season in 2012.
Creighton Series Notes
• Sunday's match will represent just the third all-time meeting between the Zips and Bluejays but also the second time the schools have faced off in 2012. Akron is 1-0-1 all-time versus Creighton, including a 1-all draw in Omaha last August.
• Sean Kim finished a rebounded shot by Jose Gomez in the 24th minute to give CU a 1-0 lead at halftime in the last meeting at Morrison Stadium. It was just the 11th time under Coach Porter that the Zips had trailed at the break. Creighton remains the only school to score first or record a first-half goal against UA in 2012.
• Akron, which out-shot Creighton 15-12, found the equalizer in the 57th minute when Alfred Koroma flicked home a cross from DeAndre Yedlin to force overtime.
• A through ball from Eric Stevenson sprung Aodhan Quinn for what would have been the game-winner in the first overtime period, but a disputed offsides call negated the golden goal.
• Akron earned a 1-0 victory over Creighton during the regular season in 2010 at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field in the first meeting of the series.
• Akron advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 by way of a 2-1 win over Michigan last Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field. The Zips out-shot the Wolverines 25-12 overall and 11-5 on goal.
• Eric Stevenson, who has recorded a point in each of the Zips' last two matches, gave UA a 1-0 lead in the 43rd minute on a beautifully-struck curling shot from the top of the box.
• Thomas Schmitt, who started in place of the injured Reinaldo Brenes, finished a give-and-go with Aodhan Quinn early in the second half to give Akron some much-needed breathing room. It was his third goal of the year and second in three games.
• A Michigan free kick goal cut the lead in half in the 62nd minute but that's as close as U-M would get as Zips goalkeeper David Meves made a highlight-reel worthy save in the 86th minute to preserve the victory.
Akron At The NCAA Tournament
• The Zips are making their 27th all-time appearance in the NCAA postseason. It is the sixth consecutive season they have qualified for the 48-team national playoff.
• Coach Porter, who owns an all-time record of 11-4-2 at the NCAA Tournament, has led the Zips to the Round of 16 in each of the last five seasons and the NCAA final in back-to-back seasons in 2009 and 2010.
• Akron captured the school's first team national championship in any sport in 2010 with a 1-0 victory over top-seeded Louisville one year after falling in a penalty-kick shootout (3-2) to Virginia.
• UA is 8-1-1 (.850) at home over the last seven seasons during the NCAA Tournament. One would have to go all the way back to the 2007 season to find the Zips' last defeat on their home field in NCAA postseason play when UA came up short in a 1-0, double-overtime decision against South Florida in the NCAA's second round.
• In being awarded a No. 5-seed, the Zips earned a first-round bye at the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in the last six seasons. It is the second time they have been a No. 5 seed and the seventh time they have been seeded overall since 2003.
• The Zips' senior trio of Chad Barson, Scott Caldwell and Meves have appeared in all 14 of Akron's NCAA Tournament matches during the past three seasons, posting a record of 10-2-2.
• In those 14 games – against the best competition – those three players have helped the Zips record six shutouts while holding teams to one or fewer goal 11 times. Furthermore, both Barson and Meves came up with huge defensive stops in the final seconds of the 2010 national championship win against Louisville to preserve UA's win.
• Caldwell, the Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the 2010 College Cup, has scored four goals in his last nine NCAA Tournament games, including the game-winning strike in the 2010 NCAA Championship match.
No Place Like Home
• Historically speaking, there has been no better home field advantage in the country than the one enjoyed by the Zips. With a 5-0 victory over Cleveland State on Aug. 27, 2011, Akron surpassed Tulsa for the NCAA's all-time standard for the longest home unbeaten streak (40 matches). The Golden Hurricane set the original mark of 39 games from 1988-'92.
• The Zips would remain unbeaten on their home field for eight more matches (6-0-2) in 2011 to push the record to 48 contests (44-0-4) before Michigan State ended the remarkable run with a 1-0 victory on Nov. 2, 2011. During the historic stretch, Akron out-scored its opponents 119-21 at home while posting 31 shutouts.
• UA is 10-0-1 at home this season where they have out-scored opponents, 28-2. Michigan and West Virginia (Oct. 20) have been the only two opposing teams to score a goal at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field in 2012, spanning 1,010 minutes of play.
• Furthermore, the Zips have yet to trail in a home game in 2012 and have trailed at home just six times during the last five seasons for a total of 82 minutes and 43 seconds.
The Department of Defense
• With a possession-dominated style of soccer and a swarming defense, the Zips have limited opponents to very few scoring opportunities in 2012. In fact, UA has held its opponents without a single shot on goal six times this season and has allowed three or fewer attempts on frame 14 times in 21 matches.
• Akron leads the nation with 16 shutouts – including eight straight from Sept. 13 to Oct. 16 – and a shutout percentage of .760 (16 shutouts in 21 matches).
• UA, which has allowed two goals in its last 1,451:30 of play, has allowed just seven goals all season – three coming in a short-handed loss at Notre Dame on Sept. 9. The Zips enter the week No. 2 in the nation with a goal-against-average 0.33.
• Akron's 16 shutouts also represent the second-highest single-season total in school history and are just three shy of the program's standard (19), set in 2009.
• Including their eight-game shutout streak, which ranks as the 10th-longest in NCAA Division I history, the Zips compiled 713 scoreless minutes over a 10-game period from Sept. 7 to Oct. 20.
• Since 2006, Akron has shut out its opponent 98 times in 157 contests - or 62.4 percent of the time – while limiting opponents to one goal or less 140 times (89.2 percent).
Akron On The Attack
• The Zips, who have been shut out just once this season, are ranked eighth in the nation in goals scored (45) and 11th in scoring offense (2.14 goals/match).
• UA has out-shot its opponents by a total count of 395-161, including a 202-68 advantage in the first half alone, in 2012. Furthermore, Akron has been out-shot only one time this season – a 22-13 short-handed deficit at Notre Dame on Sept. 9 – and just five times since the start of the 2009 season; spanning 94 matches.
• Individually, 13 different Zips have scored at least one goal this season and 11 different players have contributed game-winners. This balanced distribution is a stark contrast to last year's club which was led by future Major League Soccer draftee Darren Mattocks. As a sophomore, Mattocks netted 21 of the Zips' 48 goals on the season (43.8 percent). Caldwell was second on the team with six goals in 2011.
• Reinaldo Brenes (10 G, 2 A), Scott Caldwell (9 G, 10 A) and Eric Stevenson (7 G, 5 A) pace the Akron attack. In particular, it has been a breakout season for Brenes, who entered the year with just one goal in his first two years at UA. The junior Costa Rican has been limited by injury since Nov. 3 however and is considered day-to-day.
• With one more goal, Caldwell will become the first Akron player since 1998 (Michael Apple) to record double-digit goals and assists in a single season.
• A key to the Zips' success this season and in years past has been their ability to draw first blood. Akron has out-scored opponents 23-1 in the first half in 2012 and is now 112-3-4 (.958) when scoring first since 2006. Moreover, UA is 81-2-2 (.965) when it leads at halftime and 90-1-3 (.973) when it scores two or more goals during that time.
• Along those lines, Akron has scored 18 goals in the first 30 minutes of matches this season, including seven in the first 15 minutes of play. Conversely, the only school to find the net in the first half against the Zips in 2012 was Creighton, which netted a goal in the 24th minute but settled for a draw when Alfred Koroma recorded the equalizer in the 57th minute.