Dec. 4, 2010
AKRON, Ohio - Sixth-seeded California ended its season on penalty kicks as third-seeded Akron edged the Golden Bears, 3-2, in a penalty kick shootout after both teams tied, 3-3, in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinal on a snowy Saturday at Lee R. Jackson Soccer Field. This was arguably the Golden Bears' best season in program history, as its NCAA quarterfinal appearance matched the 2005 team for the school's deepest postseason run. The current, Pac-10 champion Bears wound up with a 14-2-4 record, as this result is technically a tie, while the Zips' record now stands at 20-1-2.
Akron, the 2010 Mid-American Conference champion and 2009 College Cup runner-up, plays Michigan in one national semifinal on Dec. 10 in Santa Barbara, Calif. Louisville, which defeated Pac-10 runner-up UCLA, 5-4, in another quarterfinal tonight, plays North Carolina in the other national semi.
In Akron, a talented Cal squad took a 1-0 first-half lead and then twice rebounded from deficits to force its 11th overtime game of the season.
Cal went ahead 1-0 at 30:14 when junior midfielder Ted Jones sent a long pass from midfield to senior midfielder Anthony Avalos, who dribbled close to the Akron penalty area and hit a nice shot to slot the ball to the far post. That marked the first time that Akron had trailed at home all year and just the seventh time that Akron had trailed at all over the past two seasons. The Zips had entered the match with a 12-0-0 record at home.
Akron's crisp passing finally paid off at 40:33. Darren Mattocks and Darlington Nagbe combined to set up Michael Nanchoff on the far side of the Cal box. Nanchoff fired under junior goalkeeper David Bingham to tie the game at 1-1.
Just 28 seconds later, Akron scored the go-ahead goal. Nagbe and Anthony Ampaipitakwong moved the ball across the top of the Cal penalty area to Scott Caldwell, who scored from 12 yards to give Akron a 2-1 lead.
The Zips, who outshot Cal, 9-6, in the first half, took its lead into halftime.
In next 45 minutes, Cal would show a noticeable spark and build its share of quality attacks to outshoot Akron, 8-4. Senior defender Demitrius Omphroy would also prove to be a key figure on both of the Bears' second-half goals.
At 56:12, Omphroy blasted a shot that Akron goalkeeper David Meves blocked but could not hold onto. With the ball rolling loose in the six-yard box and Meves still on the ground, sophomore midfielder Tony Salciccia pounced and scored his third goal of the season to tie the game at 2-2.
The ever-dangerous Zips took a 3-2 lead through Perry's Kitchen's 15-yard blast at 75:41.
But the never say die Bears produced more late-game heroics this postseason, scoring at 88:29 to tie the game at 3-3. Omphroy sent a long pass from near midfield into the Zips' box, and sophomore forward John Fitzpatrick latched onto the ball to score his seventh goal of the year from five yards out.
Cal likewise had to come from behind in the second-round win over UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 21 in Berkeley. Senior midfielder Servando Carrasco converted a penalty kick at 88:20 to tie that match, 1-1, and send it to overtime. Cal eventually prevailed, 2-1, on senior forward Davis Paul's golden goal.
This time, the game moved into overtime tied 3-3. It was Akron's third overtime game of the year.
The hometown Zips officially recorded five shots in the 20-minute sudden victory overtime period and had a great chance late in the second OT. With less than one minute remaining, Bingham saved a shot, and the ball rolled towards Caldwell just inside the Cal penalty area. As Caldwell approached, Cal senior defender Scot VanBuskirk slid in to clear the ball away.
After tying 3-3 through two overtimes, the game went to penalty kicks - a first for both Cal and Akron this season - to decide which team would advance to the College Cup. Tied at 2-2 through four and a half rounds, defender Kofi Sarkodie converted in the fifth round for Akron, to give the Zips a 3-2 shootout win.
Goals by Period
1 2 1OT 2OT F California 1 2 0 0 3 Akron 2 1 0 0 3
Shots by Period
1 2 1OT 2OT F California 6 8 0 0 14 Akron 9 4 2 3 18