AKRON, Ohio – The top-seeded University of Akron men’s soccer team scored twice in the first 13 minutes and never looked back in a 4-1 rout of No. 2-seed Western Michigan to win its 10th Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
For the second straight match, the Zips (16-3-1) established a season high for goals scored and saw one of its players find the back of the net more than once as Zac Portillos, who also assisted a goal, recorded his first career brace.
With the win, UA earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament and will make its seventh-consecutive appearance at the championships when the brackets are announced Monday at Noon. Zips Athletics will host an NCAA Men’s Soccer Selection Show Watch Party at the Student Union starting at 11:30 a.m.
For their performances this weekend, Adam Najem, Portillos, Aodhan Quinn and Eric Stevenson were named to the All-MAC Tournament Team.
Akron, which defeated the Broncos 1-0 in Kalamazoo, Mich., to clinch the league’s regular season title last weekend, was in complete control throughout the match and allowed WMU’s goal long after many of its starters had been replaced.
Despite the lopsided score, it could have been much worse for Western Michigan (9-9-1) as the Zips had a pair of goals waved off for offsides and missed a penalty kick in the match’s fourth minute. In addition to allowing all four Akron goals, Broncos’ goalkeeper Chase Rau, who was one of three WMU representatives on the All-Tournament Team, recorded six saves.
UA, which out-shot WMU 11-0 in the first half, jumped on top early with a pair of goals coming just one minute and eight seconds apart.
Quinn recorded the first in the 12th minute when a ball played back by Reinaldo Brenes left him with space in front of the goal. The 2013 MAC Player of the Year made WMU pay with a rocket from 15 yards out that whistled into the back of the net.
Then in a flash, Portillos slipped a shot past Rau from a difficult angle – coming from the near right flank – to make it 2-0 at the 12:52 mark.
Akron pressed forward after halftime and Portillos sparked another Zips goal in the 50th minute when he let go of a blast from distance that was punched out by Rau. Continuing the play, Brenes jumped on the rebound and slotted it home from straight on.
Portillos completed the brace in the 56th minute on another second-chance ball after Eric Stevenson’s shot was saved.
Western Michigan recorded its first shot of the match at 65:34 when Oliver Mayer sent his attempt high over the crossbar.
Zips Notebook: After scoring 15 goals through the first 14 matches of the season, the Zips have now scored 15 in their last six contests alone … UA has now won six straight games and is unbeaten in its last 10 (9-0-1) … Portillos is the fifth different Akron player to record multiple goals in a game this fall (Robbie Derschang, Najem, Quinn and Stevenson are the others) … UA is 10-0 when scoring two or more goals and 14-1-0 when scoring first this season.
2013 MAC All-Tournament Team
Adam Najem, Akron
Zac Portillos, Akron
Aidhan Quinn, Akron
Eric Stevenson, Akron
Jamie O’Grady, Hartwick
Matthew Robertson, Hartwick
Andy Bevin, West Virginia
Craig Stephens, West Virginia
Connor Furgason, Western Michigan
Oliver Mayer, Western Michigan
Chase Rau, Western Michigan