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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 2016 campaign marks his fourth year leading the Zips having registered a 48-13-6 (.761) ledger after posting an 18-3-3 record 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 158-26-22 (.820), including a 48-2-2 (.942) mark in Mid-American Conference play, while securing eight conference tournament titles, nine trips to the NCAA Tournament and two appearances in an NCAA final.
The Zips entered the 2015 campaign fueled by the return of nine starters from a squad that posted a 13-6-2 ledger in 2014.
Recording their 15th consecutive double-digit victory campaign, the Zips finished the season ranked No. 3 nationally with an 18-3-3 ledger, including 4-0-1 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 No. 4 national seed and a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the 30th time in program history.
The Zips became one of just five Division I programs to qualify for the NCAA Tournament in each of the past nine seasons with their 30th overall selection.
Akron was led by the play of Adam Najem and Richie Laryea, who garnered second- and third-team National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-America accolades, respectively, en route to directing the Zips to rank second in the NCAA in points (159), goals (56), and scoring offense (2.33), third in points per game (6.63) and shots per contest (17.54), fourth in assists (47), seventh in winning percentage (.813) and 10th in shots on goal per game (7.13).
The Zips also found success in the classroom as Akron boasted a team 3.1955 grade-point average, while Najem was tabbed a first-team NSCAA Academic All-American.
Led by Sam Gainford, Stuart Holthusen, Laryea, Najem, Brad Ruhaak and Andrew Souders, who were selected as first-team All-MAC men's soccer selections, eight Akron student-athletes garnered All-MAC accolades a year ago. Additionally, Jake Fenlason and Sean Sepe were recognized as second-team selections.
The Zips came into the campaign maintaining a No. 25 preseason ranking by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) as well as being tabbed preseason No. 24 by College Soccer News.
After opening the season splitting a pair of matches at VCU and Old Dominion, Akron rolled off three consecutive victories over ranked opponents registering a 1-0 triumph at No. 4 Georgetown before notching a 3-2 road win at No. 6 Maryland and then opening its home campaign downing No. 14 Saint Louis, 3-2.
In a rematch of its 2014 NCAA Tournament showdown, the Zips battled Ohio State to a 3-3 double-overtime draw before No. 8 Wake Forest bettered Akron, 2-1.
The Zips then began a run of seven straight wins with a 2-0 triumph at No. 25 UC Santa Barbara. Akron followed with victories past Penn State (1-0), UAB (2-1 in OT), Santa Clara (2-0), Buffalo (2-1), Northern Illinois (4-0) and Michigan State (4-1) before earning a 1-1 double-overtime draw at Western Michigan.
Akron closed out the month of October recording a 2-0 win at West Virginia before dropping a 4-2 decision against No. 25 UCLA to open the month of November.
The Zips registered a 4-0 victory over Bowling Green to earn the right to host the MAC Championship at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field after claiming the schools 18th regular season league title.
Akron captured the MAC Tournament crown with a 1-0 victory past Buffalo before opening NCAA Tournament play downing No. 25 Rutgers, 6-1, in the tournament's second round.
The Zips continued tournament besting No. 11 SMU, 2-1, before earning a 3-2 overtime victory over No. 3 Creighton in the Elite Eight to advance to the College Cup where Akron battled eventual national champion Stanford to a 1-1 double-overtime draw, before the Cardinal advanced on penalty kicks, 8-7 in 10 rounds.
In January, 2016, Lareya became the 11th Zip to have his name called during the first round of the MLS SuperDraft with his selection seventh overall in the MLS SuperDraft by Orlando City.
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.
Led by Najem, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Fenlason and 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, Holthusen, Laryea and Victor Souto were recognized as second-team selections.
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 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 26 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.
Leo Chappel, who brings nearly 20 years of collegiate coaching experience, is in his third season as assistant coach on the Zips staff.
Chappel, who was the head men's coach at Columbia University from 2006-09 after playing a key role in transforming UC-Santa Barbara into a national powerhouse, most recently served as the Director of Scouting for Toronto FC of Major League Soccer.
Prior to his time at Columbia, Chappel served his first of two stints as an assistant coach at UCSB. From 2001-06, Chappel was instrumental in recruiting five Gauchos' classes that ranked among the nation's top 20 by Soccer America and College Soccer News, including several members of UCSB's 2006 NCAA National Championship team.
In 2004, UCSB held the No. 1 ranking in the nation for much of the season and reached the national final where the Gauchos fell to Indiana by way of penalty kicks. Following that season, Chappel was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Assistant Coach of the Year.
Chappel returned to UCSB as an assistant coach in 2009 and maintained that position for two more seasons. In all, the Gauchos posted a record of 118-26-8, including a postseason mark of 12-4-2, during seven seasons with Chappel on staff. During that time, Chappel recruited and coached 16 All-Americans – all of whom went on to play professionally in MLS or abroad.
Chappel joined Toronto FC in January of 2011. One of his many roles as the Director of Scouting included identifying and analyzing the top prospects in college soccer as part of the organization's SuperDraft preparation. Chappel also scouted future opponents, opposing MLS players and foreign prospects.
Prior to his first stint at UCSB, Chappel spent three seasons as an assistant at UNC-Charlotte – where he helped produce six All-Americans – and two years at his alma mater Ohio Wesleyan – where he recruited nine of the 11 starters who won the 1998 NCAA Div. III National Championship.
Chappel started his coaching career as an assistant at Wake Forest from 1995-96.
Ger Coppinger is in his second season on the Zips' staff after spending the four seasons on the Missouri State coaching staff where he was tasked with the training of the Bears' goalkeepers, while also assisting on the recruiting front.
Coppinger handles the training of goalkeepers, assists with scouting and recruiting at Akron.
Missouri State captured back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference titles in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Coppinger helped mentor Addison Watson to honorable mention All-MVC accolades as Missouri State posted a conference-record 0.15 goals against average in league play, allowing only one goal. Watson recorded nine individual shutouts this season, including five in conference play.
The Bears broke several school records in 2013, including leading the nation in goals against average (eight goals allowed in 18 games) for the first time in program history. The Bears allowed just one goal in conference play and recorded 10 shutouts (including seven consecutive) on the season. Coppinger, along with head coach Jon Leamy and Michael Seabolt, were recognized as the MVC Coaching Staff of the Year after winning the MVC regular-season title.
Another one of his pupils, Trevor Spangenberg, recently signed with the New England Revolution of the MLS.
Coppinger and the Missouri State coaching staff orchestrated an imposing defensive product in 2012, limiting opponents to 14 goals, tying a single-season school record for fewest goals allowed. Additionally, sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Riggs and the Bears' defense recorded six shutouts, while allowing just three multi-goal games in 17 matches.
In his first season at Missouri State, the Bears posted an overall record of 9-8-2 and went 5-1 in the MVC regular season to clinch a share of the regular-season title.
Coppinger came to Missouri State after spending 2010 as the men's and women's goalkeeper coach at Missouri Baptist University.
As a player, Coppinger was a goalkeeper on the varsity squad at Missouri Baptist for four seasons, including his freshman campaign under Embick.
A native of Ireland, Coppinger earned a B.S. in physical education from Missouri Baptist in May 2011 and has a teaching license. He also holds a Goalkeeper I & II diploma and National "D" Coaching License from NSCAA.
T.J. Kolba is in his second season on the Zips' staff after one season as an assistant coach on the men's soccer staff at Wright State.
In 2014, he helped mentor Eric Lynch, the Horizon League's Most Valuable Player, and the rest of a Raider' squad that posted their highest-victory total (12) since 2001 and led the conference in scoring with 38 goals.
Kolba's duties at Akron focus on training and managing the back line, video analysis and breakdown for both the Zips and opponents, and managing all equipment needs.
Kolba came to Wright State after serving eight seasons on the coaching staff at Cleveland State, including the final two as the associate head coach. At Cleveland State, he handled all administrative, travel and budgetary matters for the Vikings and also assisted with on-field coaching and recruiting.
Kolba was instrumental in the improvement and growth of the program during his time at Cleveland State. During the 2006 season, he helped lead the Vikings to the largest turnaround among all NCAA Division I programs. Over his final six years there, CSU won 53 matches, including a victory over #1 Akron in 2010, and won the Horizon League Tournament title in 2012, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1980.
Prior to his time at Cleveland State, Kolba served as an assistant coach for one season at John Carroll University, a campaign that saw the Blue Streaks compile a 13-7-1 overall mark, win the regular-season and postseason Ohio Athletic Conference crowns and advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
A four-year letterwinner and three-year captain for the Blue Streaks, Kolba was recognized as the Ohio Athletic Conference Defender of the Year as a senior in 2004. A three-time All-OAC selection, Kolba finished his career with 24 points (eight goals and eight assists) in 73 matches. His defensive efforts helped lead the Blue Streaks to three consecutive OAC Championship matches.
Kolba graduated from John Carroll in the fall of 2004 with a degree in marketing and logistics.
He also serves as a United States National Team scout with the U.S. Soccer Federation's Development Academy.
Kolba maintains a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) A License, and also serves as a United States National Team scout with the USSF's Development Academy.