This is going to be a long , passionate post about how proud that I am ...of zips soccer.....
the players ...and the coaching staff.
I am going to start by posting the news article from the WVU site...and quotes from their coach
WVU led 14-9 in shots ...and 8-2 in corner kicks
"It's cruel when it happens that late in the game, with just two minutes left," Mountaineer coach Dan Stratford said. "Although, it wasn't like we were trying to hang on at the end by any stretch. In fact, I thought it was quite the opposite. I thought we had the better of the game throughout, quite honestly. The stats will likely support it and so will the possession, I would anticipate. I have to give credit to Akron, they're a quality team. That was a great game of football, really, and I wish we didn't have to be on the receiving end of an unfortunate result."
Now, my comments .....and my long passionate post
After the Northern Illinois game, I posted that the zips had to play NIU.....without an incredible amount of key starters and key reserves
Pol Hernandez, Will Jackson, Jason Shokalook, Johnny Fitzgerald, Marco Milanese, Federico Serra and Nick Scott....
A good friend...also pointed out that Josh Hangi...also did not play in the NIU game
For tonight's key game against a West Virginia team...with a road win over a very good Charlotte team...and a home win against a top 10 team - Marshall, the zips played without arguably....their 2 best players this year.....Diogo Pacheco and Pol Hernandez
Pacheco has been an absolute beast all year on the left side......In my opinion, he has the most valuable zip this year
Pacheco played against NIU.....but was not available for last night's game against WVU
Pol Hernandez has improved so much during his time at UA.....Pol has been an outstanding offensive threat all year from the Left back spot....Pol also battles on defense
Credit to both Diogo and Pol...for their hard work and tremendous improvement at Akron....get well soon, guys.......hope to see you both doing great work from the left side soon
Marco Milanese was also not available tonight.....Daniel Strachan and Carlo Ritaccio were both absolute warriors against WVU and were absolutely gassed by the end of the game
would have been so nice to have a great, quality player....like Marco Milanese ...to spell them for a little bit....
but that was not an option tonight.....but yet....the will and determination of the 2 outstanding center backs was huge in helping the zips persevere
This may have been Carlo Ritaccio's finest effort as a zip. My heart absolutely broke for Carlo when a fluky bounce earned a PK for WVU. The zips could have crumbled with a fluky bounce late in the game....but they did not. They kept defending with all of their heart....and they should be very proud.
Carlo was an absolute leader on the field. Several times, I saw him calming down Dyson Clapier and Sam Tojaga. Carlo was a tremendous captain tonight. Carlo, Zips nation is very proud of you tonight. The West Virginia coach was correct....WVU had the bulk of the possession. I lost track of the number of times that Daniel Strachan had great clearances under pressure.
The zips played also tonight without ....Federico Serra.....Serra has been a key player this year and has had some outstanding moments.
Many people, myself included....were calling for Tonny Temple to get the start against WVU. Tonny has done some great work this season. Tonny Temple was not available for tonight's game. Dyson Clapier and Jason Shokalook and Ryan Combe all have to be exhausted...but they gave herculean efforts up front with Temple not available
I can not say enough good things about Will Jackson and Jason Shokalook. Both were unavailable for NIU. They are probably 2 of the guys that Coach Embick was talking about....with 2 days of training since the middle of March.
Will Jackson....put forth one of the most unselfish, tremendous efforts tonight that I have ever seen.
Since the moment that Will Jackson has stepped on campus, he has played the glory position.....center forward....
Tonight, Will Jackson did what the team needed...Pol Hernandez was not available to be the zips great left back
Will Jackson moved from the glory position...center forward....to the left defensive back position...
Will Jackson is not match fit...the way that he would like to be....but he defended all over the field
Truly unselfish, magnificent effort. The zips would not have won with out Will Jackson.
Jason Shokalook should be a senior in high school. I am very happy that he started at Akron a year early. He is a high school senior in age....but he has a man's size heart
He hustled down a ball....and made a tremendous feed to Colin Biros....that resulted in the 2nd goal
Jason fired a shot off the post in the 2nd OT...and then aggressively challenged the GK...
as Hazem said, Jason should have been the hero....but Jason kept fighting for his teammates...and Hazem got the win for the zips
Jason gave a tireless, team first effort tonight. After being inactive for so long, his fitness is not where he wants....but his effort and heart were vital in the zips win.
Be honest, zips fans....who had heard of Nate Metsack before the NIU game? Nate played an incredible amount of minutes tonight at right back....and his defensive efforts kept the high powered WVU team from putting more goals in the net.
Colin Biros - 2 magical moments tonight....his 22 yard goal strike was an absolute thing of beauty. His corner kick on the first goal...was tremendous. Corner kicks have not been a super strength for the zips over the past few year. Colin Biros is an outstanding corner kick taker. Colin is the zips engine. When he is good, the zips are good.
Dyson Clapier was aggressive and had some very good runs with the ball. Johnny Fitzgerald consistently challenged for the ball in the midfield and had some quality runs. Sam Tojaga has not been fully healthy this year.....but he fed a quality ball into the box in the 2nd overtime. All Hazem Sobhy....did was....win the game
It is 4:00 in the morning as I type this. I could not sleep as I was so proud and excited about the zips effort. I do not want to slight any players. This was a total team effort. This team has been thru a 3 week period....that very few athletic teams have ever encountered. The courage, resilience and the heart of this team should be greatly admired. They beat an NCAA tournament caliber team...with zips players that have been very sick and that have not been able to train. Ryan Combe had to play an upfront winger position tonight after playing right back all year. Will Jackson did what was best for the team and moved from center forward to left back.
Finally, the coaching staff. They have not been able to work with a full team for the past 3 weeks. The coaching staff made bold adjustments tonight. Moving Will Jackson to outside back and moving Ryan Combe away from right back. This was not classic Akron possession soccer against West Virginia.....but the coaches put together a game plan that gave the zips the best chance of winning. Kudos to Coach Embick, Coach Ger C. and Coach Nanchoff. Great adjustments.....and great belief in your players. The effort and heart put forth by the players tonight show how much they care and like playing for this coaching staff.
I am so very proud of these players and this coaching staff. This team is not perfect but they battled their hearts out for 108 minutes tonight. Great effort, zips.