Cal Travels to Undefeated Home of Zips

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There are only eight soccer teams still chasing the NCAA College Cup.

The No. 6-seed Cal men's soccer team squares off against No. 3-seed Akron, trading the mild temperature of Northern California for the frigid, snowy conditions of Ohio.

Should the Bears (14-2-3) claim a victory on Saturday and advance to the semifinals, it will be the furthest that any Cal team has gone in the tournament.

"This team set goals in the beginning of the year," senior forward Davis Paul said. "A national title is always something that, especially our senior class, is really pushing for ... But we try not to think of (the next game) as anything more than just another one on this road to the national title."

One of the most talented teams in the country, the Zips have consistently been a top-10 finisher. Last year, Akron (20-1-1) fell to Virginia in the national championship in penalty kicks, 3-2.

This year, the Zips boast a team led by nationally recognized players Darren Mattocks and David Meves.

Boasting the third-leading scorer in the nation, Akron's Mattocks will pose a threat to the Bears' defense. The 6-foot freshman has collected 18 goals this year alone. He also sits at No. 4 in total points, tallying 40 throughout his season.

On defense, sophomore David Meves has 10 shutouts this season. His stinginess in the net has ranked him fifth in goals against average at 0.56.

The Zips' only loss and tie thus far have been against teams from Ohio. Cleveland State handed Akron its only loss this year, 2-1, and Ohio State tied the team in a 2-2 double overtime match.

"I know (the Zips) are a really good team; they don't lose a lot," senior co-captain A.J. Soares said. "But I also know that we are an excellent team that doesn't lose a lot either. It is going to be a good matchup."

The Pac-10 champions are led by a lineup of seven seniors, four of them members of the 2010 All-Pac-10 first team. Soares earned Pac-10 Player of the Year for his play this season and is among the 15 semifinalists for the Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy.

Junior David Bingham is a force to be reckoned with eight shutouts and is the second-ranked goalkeeper in the nation in save percentage, at 0.897.

The talent each of the teams possesses will surely make an exciting contest for their first matchup in history.

Akron has an untarnished home record this season and is currently riding a 38-game home unbeaten streak that dates back to 2007.

Cal is undefeated in road games this year, with six wins and two ties away. What is going to give this weekend?

"They might have the longer streak at home," Paul said. "If anybody is the gambling type, I think that you have to bet on the fact that they are due for a loss."

Tags: CAL MEN'S SOCCER, KEVIN GRIMES, DAVIS PAUL, A.J. SOARES


Kelly Suckow covers men's soccer. Contact her at [email protected]



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