How about football? They did it! Every Akron fan that watched the end of the Zips' 22-14 victory over Buffalo feels like Kevin Garnett right now. Despite the officiating crew's attempts at keeping Buffalo in the game (some ridiculous late-game calls and reviews), the Zips closed it out thanks to a (who else?) Brian Wagner forced fumble.
Super-kudos to the 5,216 loyal fans that were in attendance the day after Thanksgiving.
Patrick Nicely finally looked like an FBS quarterback, completing 13 of his 24 passes for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns, and not a single interception. Each touchdown went to one of Akron's top receivers:
Jeremy LaFrance: 6 REC, 65 YDS, TD
Jalil Carter: 5 REC, 109 YDS, TD
Gary Pride: 1 REC, 15 YDS, TD
Keith Sconiers: 1 REC, 4 YDS
Also, this had to be an emotional game for 6th-year senior Alex Allen, and it showed in yet another impressive rushing game. He was given the ball a worthy 32 times and ran for 120 yards, but didn't reach the end zone. Nate Burney ran 4 times for 24 yards.
And, as always, Zack Campbell!
Zack Campbell: 5 punts, 185 YDS
On the other side of special teams, the Ever Dependable Igor Iveljic earned his nickname with two (count 'em!), TWO missed extra points. The Slightly More Dependable Branko Rogovic took his place and made a 39 yard field goal.
We finished with an FBS-worst 1-11 record, but the play of this team since the shutout at Temple, has been very promising (defense included). Add to that mixture that Rob Ianello is known for great recruiting, that the current players have already had one full offseason with Ianello, and that we have a fairly young team (other than Alex Allen and Jeremy LaFrance, who will be sorely missed), and we may see a 4-6 win team next year. Want evidence? Look at the MAC East Champion Miami Redhawks, whose team last year looked an awful lot like ours...
The MAC Champions advanced to the Elite Eight yesterday, defeating an Indiana Hoosiers squad full of "the rich tradition of IU soccer" 2-1.
Let me just start by saying "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!"
After last year's horribly disappointing runner-up finish, everybody that follows Akron soccer has been anticipating this year's championship matchup. That's a deadly thing. The team has been beaten by a mediocre Cleveland State team and gave up two very late goals last week against West Virginia. Any one of these tournament matchups has the opportunity to dash our hopes against the brick wall that we call sports, and there are still three games to go for a championship title.
Seeing the win today was like Christmas in...November...
After a hard-fought scoreless first half, Michael Nanchoff put Akron up 1-0 in the 53rd minute. One minute and eight seconds later, Darren Mattocks intercepted Hoosier goalkeeper Luis Soffner's pass and put in his 18th goal of the year.
Indiana pressed hard in the final minutes, scoring in the 82nd, but couldn't get close in the final few.
Here's what I'm wondering: How many incredible seasons is it going to take for people to start talking about Akron's rich soccer tradition?
The team fell to 2-2 after losing 64-51 to Cleveland State, but at least in four games, they have a better record than the football team's whole season; so even if they finish with 2 wins, we'll still be able to say "it could be worse". Isn't optimism GREAT????
Basically, the Zips' hot 3-point shooting fizzled out during the wrong game. Cleveland State is a great team, yet they were held in check for the majority of the game, even though the Zips were led in rebounding by 6'4" Brett McClanahan (7) and 6'0" Darryl Roberts (5).
Some notes (all bad):
- Zeke Marshall played like a Zeke Marshmallow, scoring a team-high 14 points and sending 4 balls screaming for their mommies, but grabbing just 5 rebounds, allowing way too many inside points and dropping seemingly every pass that came his way (5 turnovers in reality).
- Nikola Cvetinovic was grade-A ball hog, putting up shot after shot, even though he was obviously cold. Don't be fooled by his 4 assists. Teams are starting to figure out that nearly every time he gets the ball he's going to spin to the middle for a layup. He finished 1/10 shooting with 6 points and just 3 rebounds in 30 minutes.
- Why is Mike Bardo not playing more? He had 4 rebounds and and a block in just 6 minutes, as well as a SICK follow up shot for his only points. The rebounds show just how much of a presence he is in the paint. He would have come in handy while Cleveland was catching fire in the paint in the second half; Cleveland State's Jeremy Montgomery and Trevon Harmon (who put home a momentum-crushing dunk over Zeke in the final minutes) had their way with Zeke Marshmallow multiple times.
- The bench (other than Bardo) is disappointing at best so far. Quincy Diggs had the most minutes with 10, and finished with 5 points and a rebound. Alex Abreu played 6 minutes and accumulated a foul and a turnover. Josh Egner had 1 block in 5 minutes, and Dakotah Euton bricked three times and had 1 assist in 7 minutes.