While Ohio is football country, Akron is also futbol country.
The Zips won the NCAA men's soccer championship on Dec. 12, 2010 beating Louisville, 1-0. Akron's first national team championship is also the sports moment judged the greatest in school history.
The Zips became the third team in MAC history to win an NCAA championship, joining Western Michigan's 1964-65 men's cross country teams.
"I have to tell myself to celebrate, to appreciate what we've done here," head coach Caleb Porter told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Our goal was to make history, and we did it."
The school's website told the story:
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The University of Akron men's soccer team captured the school's first team national championship in any sport on Sunday, using a late goal to defeat Louisville 1-0 at Harder Stadium in the NCAA College Cup. The third-seeded Zips closed out their historic season with a 22-1-2 record, while the top-seeded Cardinals suffered their only loss of the year, finishing 20-1-3.
Akron, which was appearing in the national championship game for the second time in as many seasons, broke a scoreless tie in the 79th minute with a corner kick goal by Scott Caldwell. Anthony Ampaipitakwong provided service from the left side of the field. After a volley, Caldwell had his first shot deflected off a wall of defenders. But the sophomore collected the rebound and sent the ball into the upper right-hand corner of the net from 15 yards.
Lousiville, which was playing in its first national title contest, threatened to punch in the equalizer with a flurry of attempts in the final 1:30 of regulation. One shot was blocked by UA defender Chad Barson and Zips' goalkeeper David Meves stood strong as the final seconds ticked away and the celebration began.
"I'm not usually at a loss for words, but in some ways I am," said UA head coach Caleb Porter. "I am proud of my team. It's been a long journey. It started Dec. 14 after a bitter, painful loss to Virginia last year, which ended on one kick. For these guys to recover from that; move on and work even harder is an absolute tremendous credit to these guys. They have been hungry all year; dug deep, kept going, kept fighting and refused to lose.
"This team has a rare combination of talent and winning qualities. When you put the two together, it's a powerful thing. That's why we won the national championship — the combination of those two things."
The first half featured an entertaining back-and-forth affair with Akron controlling pace early on.
In the fifth minute, Michael Nanchoff provided great service on a cross from the left flank that Darren Mattocks got a foot on, but the powerful blast sailed wide.
A frantic flurry by Louisville followed in the ninth minute — sparked by the game's first corner kick — that saw a shot by Cardinals' midfielder Charlie Campbell bang off the right post. Louisville recovered the ball and fired another shot but Paolo DelPiccolo's attempt went wide.
With the Cardinals pushing forward in the 26th minute, a cross by Nick Deleon left Dylan Mares in a one-on-one situation with Meves. But the sophomore netminder slid to his knees to make a huge save.
Meves came through again in the 44th minute on a direct free kick from DelPiccolo from distance. Meves dove to his left to gobble up the attempt. In all, Louisville posted a narrow advantage on shots, 5-4, in the opening half.
Kofi Sarkodie opened the second half with a rip from the right flank that was stopped by Louisville goalkeeper Andre Boudreaux in the 49th minute. The Cardinals answered with a free-kick opportunity one minute later but Meves was there to snag a header by Colin Rolfe.
A series of passes left Caldwell with a good look from 20 yards near the right side of the box in the 64th minute, but the sophomore couldn't quite curve in the ball. Then, two minutes later, a touch pass near mid-field from Ampaipitakwong found a pair of streaking Zips' players as Darren Mattocks and Darlington Nagbe were left with just the keeper in their sights.
Mattocks quickly pushed the ball to Nagbe, who tried to slip the ball in far post but missed wide.
The Zips kept pressing and had another good look when Korb made a run down the left flank before finding Mattocks, who made the turn and fired the ball into the hands of Boudreaux in the 71st minute. Akron, which was clearly in control in the second half, continued to apply pressure with a barrage of attempts before finally breaking through.
• The University of Akron – Sports Hall of Fame
Above: Akron celebrates its 2010 NCAA men's soccer championship, the first national team title in school history. (Courtesy Akron Athletics)
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: Western Kentucky and Western Michigan
• Tuesday: William & Mary and Winthrop
• Wednesday: Wofford and Wright State
• Thursday: Yale and Zips (Akron)
• Friday: The Judge