USF (13-5-2) at Akron (15-3-2)When: Today, 7:30 p.m.Where: Lee Jackson FieldTV/Radio: None
After a close call in the first round against Colgate, the men’s soccer team will travel to Akron, Ohio to play the Akron University Zips on Wednesday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Akron earned a No. 14 seed and a first-round bye after winning the Mid-American Conference championship. The Zips finished their season at
15-3-2, outscoring their opponents 36-12; at one point they held a six-game shutout streak.
The only previous time that the Bulls and Zips played each other was in a 2001 NCAA tournament match in which USF came away with a 2-1 victory. This time around, however, the match won’t be played on neutral ground.
The Zips are hosting their eighth NCAA tournament match and come into the game boasting a 10-0-2 record at home for the season.
“Akron is a very good team up front,” coach George Kiefer said. “They’re really good off of offensive restarts and their
forwards can make things happen. This is a game we’ll have to be smart in.”
Against Colgate, Bulls sophomore midfielder Luke Magill saw action at the right back position on defense. If the Bulls keep trying to get defenders forward, it’ll be important for Kiefer’s back line to stay back on defense and not get caught out of position, as Akron’s forwards have accounted for 11 goals this season.
Mother Nature won’t be making it any easier for the Bulls, as the projected forecast for Wednesday in the Akron area is in the mid to high 30s. The ability of the Bulls to keep their legs loose in the cold will be the key for them to get a victory.
“I think we’re well prepared for the weather,” Kiefer said. “We’ve played in a lot of different climates this fall. We’ll just have to give the bench guys more time to warm up. But for the players on the field, it’ll be better because it’s not as hard as running in the humidity and 90-degree heat.”
One thing the Bulls can feel good about will be the return of freshman forward Bernardo Anor. After missing the Colgate match due to illness, Anor returns to a lineup that missed his presence up front as he is one of the leading forces behind the USF attack with seven goals on the season.