Akron's men's soccer team will play against in-state rival Ohio State in the opening round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Soccer Championship.
After winning the regular-season MAC crown and beating Bowling Green 2-1 to win the its third-consecutive MAC Tournament, Akron will now shift its focus to the Buckeyes, whom they will play on Thursday, Nov. 20 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
The Zips (13-6-1) have already played Ohio State (9-7-4) once this season, beating the Buckeyes 3-1 in Columbus midway through the season. Now they face the same team with a different mentality.
The Buckeyes are coming off a disheartening loss to Indiana in which a late penalty kick saw OSU lose in the semi-finals of the Big Ten championship. The admittance into the Soccer Championship will have revitalized a program that has only won two of its last five games and the Buckeyes will surely be seeking revenge for their regular season defeat at home.
But much of the momentum lies with the Zips, as the MAC powerhouse has won five of its last six games--scoring 15 goals in the process. Now the big challenge will be containing a solid Buckeye offense where the goals are dispered evenly between three players.
Ohio State should be equally wary of the Akron offense led by sophomore Adam Najem. The Akron mid leads his team with 13 goals and four assists. He has scored in the last two games for the Zips and will look to be on the scoresheet again on Thursday.
The winner of the game will go on to face No. 1 seed Notre Dame on Sunday at 7 p.m. And with this game the Zips become one of six Div. I programs that have qualified for the Championship in each of the past eight seasons.