NCAA Tournament Interactive Bracket
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A first-half goal by Charlotte proved to be the difference as The University of Akron men's soccer team suffered a 1-0 defeat to the 49ers at Transamerica Field Sunday night in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
The loss ends a remarkable season that saw the Zips return to the Round of 16 for the fourth consecutive year despite losing a Major League Soccer-record seven starters to the SuperDraft in January. UA, which was shut out for just the fourth time all season, finished with a record of 15-4-4.
With the win, Charlotte (15-4-2), which improved to 9-0 at home in 2011, advances to the NCAA's Elite Eight where it will face the third-seeded UCONN Huskies, who defeated James Madison, 3-0, earlier in the day.
The 49ers scored the only goal of the match in the 25th minute when Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year Giuseppe Gentile buried a cross from Jennings Rex into the top right corner of the net. It was the first time the Zips had allowed a first-half goal all year.
Akron, which out-shot Charlotte 11-6 for the match and 7-3 in the second half, had a number of chances to equalize but couldn't finish. It's best opportunity came in the 63rd minute when DeAndre Yedlin crossed a ball into the box from the right flank. Darren Mattocks, who finished the season with 21 goals in 22 matches, put a head to it but Charlotte goalkeeper Klay Davis flicked it over the cross bar and out of play.
UA appeared to pull even just minutes after the 49ers took the lead, but a foul negated the corner-kick goal. Scott Caldwell played the ball in to Wil Trapp, who volleyed it from the far post across the goal to the head of Matt Dagilis. The fifth-year senior banged the ball into the left corner of the net but was called for a push prior to the header.
Akron goalkeeper David Meves had a tremendous second half, making a pair of key saves late to keep the Zips' comeback hopes alive. The first came in the 74th minute with a point-blank rejection of a shot from Evan James. The junior then turned away Gentile in the 81st minute on a breakaway.
Conversely, Charlotte did a good job of containing Mattocks for much of the contest, limiting the nation's second-leading scorer to just three shots.
The match got off to a very slow start as a result of choppy play, which included three yellow cards – two by the 49ers – in the first 12 minutes. Charlotte was physical throughout the contest, drawing five cautions in total to UA's two.
In addition to its run through the NCAA Tournament, the Zips had many highlights during the 2011 campaign. Among them, Akron set an NCAA record for the longest home unbeaten streak, claimed its seventh-consecutive Mid-American Conference regular-season championship and witnessed sixth-year head coach Caleb Porter become the fastest in program history – and among the fastest among all NCAA Division I coaches – to win 100 career games.
Zips Notebook: Akron, which captured the school's first national championship in any sport last December, is 9-2-2 in the NCAA Tournament since 2009 under Coach Porter ... All four of UA's losses this season were one-goal games ... The Zips have appeared in the NCAA Tournament 26 times as a program and in each of the last five seasons.