I thoroughly enjoyed John Zant’s article about the Gauchos hosting the 2018 College Cup. Truth be told, I am an Akron fan and former Akron soccer player. Your piece brought back vivid memories of a wonderful outcome for our Zips in 2010.
Although I could not attend the game at Harder Stadium, my former teammates who did echoed your thoughts on UCSB becoming the permanent destination point for the Men’s D1 Final Four. Excellent field conditions, perfect weather, just the right fan capacity notwithstanding. My mates spoke glowingly about how nice everyone was and how genuinely excited the UCSB contingent was to put on a fantastic event.
The fact that Akron is back in 2018 is nothing shy of miraculous. Not that our program has fallen off since 2010 (Zips have played in two of the last four Final Fours), but when you’ve lost the meat of a seasoned team to graduation, and your best freshman was taken #1 overall in the MLS draft, it just makes sense to set realistic expectations.
This Zips team struggled early and at 6-6-2 two was in danger of not playing in the postseason in a very, very long time. Then everything clicked. When you’re starting different iterations of young freshmen, that can be the case. However, I went to watch Akron play in the MAC Conference tournament semifinals against host WVU (Akron had lost to them earlier in the year 2-1. After leading 1-0 and conceding the tying goal with 8 seconds left. Then lost in OT).
There was a sense of revenge attached to this match and a hunger I had on the drive down to Morgantown that I hoped would be matched by this young Zips squad. Indeed it was. After giving up the first goal to WVU in 11 seconds, Akron came back 45 seconds later to score the tying goal. They dominated the host team 3-1 and haven’t looked back since. This is an Akron side that starts six freshmen and is on an eight-game winning streak.
I think I speak for the entire Akron contingent when I say we hope our Zips can recapture the magic of the past to get us back to the promised land again in 2018!