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MAC Championship Central | Zips Athletics To Host NCAA Selection Watch Party Monday
AKRON, Ohio – Thanks to a pair of goals from Eric Stevenson, the top-seeded University of Akron men's soccer team cruised to a 3-0 victory over fourth-seeded West Virginia in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament Friday night at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
The Zips (15-3-1) will play No. 2-seed Western Michigan, which defeated Hartwick 1-0 in the first semifinal of the day, for the MAC Championship Sunday at 1 p.m. To purchase your ticket, click on GoZips.com/Tickets, call 1-888-99-AKRON (25766) or go to Gate 1 of FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field starting at 12 p.m. Sunday.
In its first postseason match of the season, UA turned in its most dominant performance of the year, out-shooting WVU 22-9 overall and 7-2 on goal. Akron's three goals scored represented a season high.
For Stevenson, it was his second two-goal performance of the fall and third of his career. The senior gave the Zips a 1-0 lead with just before halftime, then completed the brace in the 66th minute. It was also a big night for freshman Adam Najem, who assisted all three Akron goals. Najem now leads the Zips with eight helpers on the year.
Aodhan Quinn, who was named MAC Player of the Year for 2013 earlier in the day, rounded out the list of goal scorers for Akron. Quinn finished a beautiful combination play that started with quick passes from Najem and Zac Portillos in the 58th minute.
Third-year sophomore Jake Fenlason, who made his first career start in net, recorded a pair of saves to earn the shutout. West Virginia, which missed a penalty kick in the 81st minute, finished the fall with a record of 7-7-5.
UA out-shot the Mountaineers (7-7-5) 12-3 in the first half but it appeared the two teams would go into the half scoreless. But a West Virginia foul set up an Akron free kick from the left side of the field about five yards beyond the penalty area.
Najem, who was searching for Saad Abdul-Salaam, whipped his service into the box where it was deflected out by a WVU defender. But Stevenson jumped on the rebound and sent a side volley into the back of the net from 15 yards out.
After Quinn's fifth goal of the year, which was also his third in three matches, Stevenson all but officially put the game out of reach with a goal set up nicely by Abdul-Salaam and Najem.
Abdul-Salaam ran down a ball that was headed towards the WVU end line and sent it back to Najem, who quickly played it to his left to Stevenson. Stevenson redirected the cross into the net from just inside the six-yard marker for his fifth goal of 2013.
The Zips, who have won their last five matches and are unbeaten in their last nine (8-0-1), will play for their 10th MAC Tournament Championship Sunday.
Zips Notebook: After scoring 15 goals through the first 14 games of the season, UA has tallied 11 goals in its past five matches ... the Zips have recorded multiple goals in each of their last five games ... Stevenson has scored all five of his goals in three games this fall ... the senior scored the Zips' lone goal at St. John's and found the back of the net twice against San Diego St. ... UA has advanced to the MAC Championship match in nine of the past 10 seasons ... the Zips own an all-time record of 24-8-5 at the MAC Tournament ... Akron starting center back Bryan Gallego had to leave the match in the eighth minute after taking a shot to the throat and did not return.