“Well, there’s a lot of pain in that locker room over there, a lot of emotion. I feel the same. I don’t think this is anything we saw coming.”
Those were the words of an emotional University of Akron head coach Caleb Porter following his Zips' suprise 5-4 loss on penalties to Creighton in the 2012 NCAA College Cup third round match at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
Tied 1-1 after 90 minutes via an Akron 12th minute goal from 2012 Zips breakout star Reinaldo Brenes and a Creighton 83rd minute equalizer from Timo Pitter, neither team was able to find another goal after the two overtime periods. Despite outshooting the Bluejays 31-11 for the match and 11-2 in the extra periods, the Zips could not pull out the win. Their best chance came in the first overtime period when Akron was given a penalty after a Creighton handball in the box. Zips captain Scott Caldwell struck the ball well only to be foiled by a strong save from Creighton's keeper.
It was a surprising and abrupt end not only to the Zips’ incredible season but also to Porter’s seven years in Akron.
Though the match meant the end of this phase of Porter’s career and he will be met by an eager Timbers fan base excited for his time to begin in Portland, it was a loss that was definitely felt hard.
To put Porter’s accomplishments at UA in perspective, here’s some numbers to consider:
-He finished his Akron career with a seven-year record of 123-18-17
-During his watch, Akron posted the highest winning percentage among all Division I schools
-Porter led the Zips to the school's first team national championship in any sport in 2010 and became one of the fastest coaches in NCAA history to reach 100 career wins in 2011
-The Zips' 18 wins in 2012 included 16 shutouts
-Akron allowed just eight goals in 22 matches this year
Needless to say, Porter leaves behind a formidable legacy. The Akron Beacon Journal has a nice recap of the match as well as a photo gallery of the difficult night in Akron.
But Porter wasn’t the only Timbers connection in the match. The 12th seeded Creighton side that beat the Zips featured two Timbers U-23s players in senior co-captain Andrew Ribeiro—who assisted on the game-tying goal and converted his penalty kick in the shootout—as well US U-20s defender Eric Miller. The Bluejays now move on to face 4th seeded UConn.
That duo, along with Louisville’s Brock Granger, are the only remaining Timbers U-23s left in the tournament. The Cardinals eliminated Northwestern 2-1 on Sunday and next take on 2nd seeded Maryland in the Elite Eight.
For a full bracket of the tournament, visit NCAA.com.