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Jared Embick, who had previously served as the Zips' associate head coach and recruiting coordinator, officially became the seventh head coach in the history of The University of Akron men's soccer program in December of 2012.
The 2015 campaign marks his third year leading the Zips have registered a 30-10-3 (.733) ledger after going 13-6-2 a season ago.
During Embick's time at Akron, the Zips have posted the highest winning percentage in the nation with an overall record of 140-23-19 (.821), including a 44-2-1 (.947) mark in Mid-American Conference play, while securing seven conference tournament titles, eight trips to the NCAA Tournament and two appearances in an NCAA final.
Akron entered the 2014 season seeking to reload the Zips' talented foundation with a young squad following the departure of six starters from a 2013 team that posted a 17-4-1 record and a No. 7 national ranking.
Recording their 14th consecutive double-digit victory campaign, the Zips finished the season with a 13-6-2 ledger, including 4-1-0 mark in the Mid-American Conference. Akron's efforts were rewarded as the Zips earned the MAC's regular season and tournament crowns en route to collecting a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the 29th time in program history.
The Zips became one of just six Division I programs to qualify for the NCAA Tournament in each of the past eight seasons with their 29th overall selection.
Led by Adam Najem, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Jake Fenlason and Andrew Souders, who were selected as first-team All-MAC men's soccer selections, seven Akron student-athletes garnered All-MAC accolades a year ago. Addtionally, Stuart Holthusen, Richie Laryea and Victor Souto were recognized as second-team selections.
The Zips came into the campaign maintaining a No. 13 preseason ranking by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) as well as being tabbed preseason No. 14, 15 and 23 by TopDrawerSoccer.com, College Soccer News and Soccer America, respectively.
Akron's opening night line-up featured seven players making their initial collegiate starts for the Zips, while six first-year players took to the field at No. 5 New Mexico.
The Zips began to build momentum as the campaign took form as Akron ended the month of September winning four of its final matches. The Zips continued their winning ways in October winning five matches, including posting four shutouts, one of which was a 1-0 decision past No. 21 UAB.
Akron registered victories in two of its final three regular season matches to earn the right to host the MAC Championship at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field after claiming the schools 17th regular season league title.
The Zips earned a pair of hard-fought 2-1 triumphs over Western Michigan and Bowling Green to secure the 11th MAC Championship crown and the 29th NCAA Tournament berth in program history.
Akron entered its NCAA Tournament showdown at Ohio State having won eight of its last 10 matches. The Zips took an early first-half lead when Najem delivered his team-leading 14th goal of the season in the 31st minute to give Akron a 1-0 advantage. A second-half goal by the Buckeyes forced overtime where neither side was able to net a golden goal ending the contest as a 1-1 draw.
In penalty kicks, the two sides nearly went shot for shot on for 15 rounds before the Zips were ultimately outshot 13-12.
Akron finished the campaign ranked 17th nationally in goals scored (37), while defensively rating 25th and 26th, respectively, in team goals against average (.785) and save percentage (.815).
Individually, Najem, who garnered first-team All-Great Lake Regional honors, ranked fourth, fifth, eighth, eighth and 24th in the NCAA in goals scored (14), total points (32), goals per game (0.67), points per match (1.52) and game-winning goals (4). Jake Fenlason was equally impressive in goal rating 27th, 32nd and 53rd nationally in goals against average (.785), save percentage (.811) and total saves (73).
In January, 2015, Abdul-Salaam became the 10th Zip to have his name called during the first round of the MLS SuperDraft with his selection 12th overall in the MLS SuperDraft ay by Sporting Kansas City.
Despite the loss of 14 players to the professional ranks – including nine underclassmen – over the previous three seasons, Embick enjoyed an impressive inaugural campaign as the Zips head coach in 2013. With an opening day lineup that featured five first-year starters, Embick guided Akron to a sweep of MAC regular season and tournament titles, a No. 7 national ranking in the NSCAA's final regular season poll, and an overall record of 17-4-1 (.795), which represented the seventh-highest winning percentage in the country.
Moreover, Akron took a 10-match unbeaten streak (9-0-1) into the NCAA Tournament and defeated defending national champion Indiana, 3-2, in the first round of play at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field. Further establishing its standing as an elite program.
In the summer of 2014, Embick had the unique opportunity to watch one of his former recruits, DeAndre Yedlin become the first player in the history of the Akron Soccer program to represent the U.S. Men's National Team at the FIFA World Cup in Brazli. Yedlin was a two-year star for the Zips from 2011-12 before signing a Homegrown Contract with the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer following his sophomore season. He currently plays for Tottenham Hotspurs of the English Premier League and was a member of the USMNT's CONCACAF Gold Cup squad this past summer.
Embick, who was the 2010 National Assistant Coach of the Year, has been a key component of the Zips' dominant run in college soccer – culminating with the school's first team national championship in any sport in 2010 – since joining the staff in 2007.
The Zips' historic 2010 campaign capped off one of the most impressive two-year runs the college soccer world has ever seen. During that time, the Zips, who lost just once during the regular run of play over 50 matches, posted an overall mark of 45-2-3 while becoming the first school to advance to national championship games in back-to-back seasons since Indiana accomplished the feat in 2003 and 2004.
Leaving little doubt of its strength of schedule, Akron achieved this success while playing the most difficult competition in college soccer with the No. 1-ranked RPI in the final regular-season release in 2009 and the No.1-ranked non-conference RPI in 2010.
Fueled by one of the greatest defensive seasons in college soccer history, the Zips matched an NCAA record by winning 23 consecutive matches on their rampage to the College Cup and national runner-up finish in 2009. UA didn't allow a single goal during the NCAA Tournament that year and finished with 19 shutouts – representing the second-highest total all-time. Furthermore, it's goals-against average (0.27) and shutout percentage (.760) were ranked third all-time.
The Zips then matched another NCAA milestone in 2010 by registering their 11th consecutive shutout in a 4-0 rout at home over No. 2 Tulsa before a sold out crowd and nationally televised audience. The win also represented the 29th game of UA's 48-match home-unbeaten streak, which shattered an NCAA record the following season.
Records continued to fall in 2012 when Akron ran the table against the MAC with a 7-0 mark during the regular season before capturing its fifth league tournament title in six seasons. In doing so, UA pushed its conference unbeaten streak to 47 matches (44-0-3) to set another NCAA standard. In fact, one would have to go all the way back to the 2006 season to find the Zips' last loss to a MAC foe.
Due in large part to Embick's recruiting efforts, Akron identified and secured some of the best prospects in the country – and around the world – with top-five recruiting classes in each of the past five seasons. The Zips' classes of 2012 and 2009 were ranked No. 1 in the country, while the classes of 2011 and 2010 each received a No. 2 designation.
More importantly, UA's recruits have flourished in the Zips' system, which features a style of play that is attractive and attack-oriented, yet effective on both sides of the ball. In total, Embick recruited or helped develop 24 players who have gone on to play professionally either in MLS or overseas since 2007.
The success of this formula was no more evident than at the 2011 MLS SuperDraft where seven Zips had their names called, including five with the first eight selections overall, to set a pair of MLS records.
Embick has also served as a staff coach with the Under-16 and Under-18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy's Cleveland Internationals club team for the past five years.
Prior to joining the Zips, Embick spent four seasons (2003-06) as the head men's soccer coach at Missouri Baptist University where he led the Spartans to a record of 47-21-8 and the program's first NAIA regional tournament berth in 2003. In all, Embick spent six seasons at MBU, including two seasons as a graduate assistant (2000-01) and one season as an assistant coach (2002).
During his time at Missouri Baptist, Embick also served as assistant coach for River Cities FC of the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) whom he helped lead to a 13-2-1 record in its inaugural season and an appearance in the WPSL national final.
A 2000 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan, Embick was named an All-American by the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) in 1998 and 1999 as a player. He was also an NAIA honorable mention All-America honoree in 1999 and was twice named to the All-Mid-Central Conference squad.