Santa Barbara, Ca. -- Scott Caldwell was the hero of the afternoon for the Akron Zips. The sophomore midfielder scored the game winning goal in the 79th minute to give Akron their first title in school history.
Akron also became the first non-ACC team to win the championship since UCSB in 2006.
The two teams exchanged chances in a lively first half with both getting good looks on goal.
The difference maker would come later in the second half off an Anthony Ampaipitakwong corner kick. Caldwell controlled the corner, but Chase Rodgers blocked his initial shot. The midfielder roofed the rebound to give the Zips the lone goal of the game.
Akron had the first chance of the game in the fifth minute when Michael Nanchoff delivered a beautiful cross to the far post. Freshman forward Darren Mattocks was there to meet the out swinger with a side volley, but his effort went wide.
Louisville responded with an opportunity to open the scoring four minutes later. After a chaotic scramble in the box following a corner kick, Charlie Campbell leapt above Akron keeper David Meves to head the ball at the empty Akron net.
However, the paint on the Akron post would again be their saving grace to keep the score level.
The end-to-end action continued when Ampaipitakwong broke free down the right side. The senior midfielder hit a diagonal ball back to Darlington Nagbe. Boudreaux was up to the challenge for his first save of the game.
Just before the television timeout, Mattocks would have another a chance to open the scoring for the Zips. The streaky striker sped past the Louisville defense, but his shot went wide of the near post.
It was Louisville with the best chance of the first half. When Dylan Mares broke through the Akron defense in the 26th minute. Meves came up with a kick save but the rebound struck Chris Korb, the retreating Akron defender, on the hand. Controversially, referee Chico Grajeda awarded no penalty kick.
Meves would be called on for his second save of the game minutes later when Andrew Farrell tried his luck from distance. Meves blocked the initial effort and secured the rebound.
The last shot of the first half would come on a 30-yard free kick by Pablo DelPiccolo. Meves would register his third save of the half on the shot as the teams went to the locker rooms even at zero.
Four minutes after the break, Akron would trouble the Louisville defense when Kofi Sarkodie snuck up the right flank. He cut in onto his left foot and shot from 18 yards out. The deflected effort took an awkward bounce before Boudreaux collected it from his third save.
A minute later, Louisville would be threatened to light up the scoreboard. A long free kick from Mares found Colin Rolfe open on the far post. Meves blocked the junior forward’s shot for his fourth save of the afternoon.
The first booking of the game came in the 54th minute when J.T. Murray took down a streaking Sarkodie on the right side of the field.
The second name in the referee’s book came minutes later when Korb was shown a caution after pulling down Campbell around midfield.
Akron had an excellent chance to get on the score sheet when Scott Caldwell knocked a ball in between two Louisville defenders that Mattocks was able to push ahead of the Cardinal’s defense.
Nagbe and Mattocks converged on the ball with only the keeper to beat. The junior, Nagbe, took the shot but it went wide to the frustration of Mattocks.
Again, Akron would challenge the Cardinals’ defense when Korb run down the left touchline and set up Mattocks six yards from goal. Boudreaux would have the save of the game with a brilliant reaction on the one-time effort.
Louisville had another chance with less than 20 minutes remaining. DelPiccolo hit a corner to the far post that Berry raised up to head on goal. Meves slapped the shot away for another corner.
Minutes later, Akron forced another Boudreaux save when Nanchoff hit a half volley from over 20 yards out. A diving Boudreaux comfortably punched it to the side.
Caldwell would break through the ironclad Louisville defense in the 79th minute after a Ampaipitakwong corner kick. Caldwell struck his first shot that was blocked by Chase Rodgers.
He made no doubt about his second effort. The sophomore midfielder roofed the effort to give the Zips the one goal advantage.
The last booking of the game came with just under seven minutes remaining on the clock when Campbell took Ampaipitakwong down.
In the last minute, Louisville had a couple chances to level the score. Meves denied bucky Tufty on the doorstep with another kick save.
Seconds later, Horton was turned away by a Chad Barson who was standing on the line after Meves had left the area to clear the ball.
The final whistle blew and the Zips grabbed their first title. The players celebrated with their fans on the north end of the stadium while coach Caleb Porter was dumped in a gatorade bath.
Junior defender Kofi Sarkoide and sophomore midfielder Scott Caldwell collected individual honors as the Most Outstanding Players, defense and offense, respectively. They'll undoubtedly go into next season as favorites to repeat as champions.
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