STANFORD, Calif. – The University of Akron men's soccer team garnered a game-winning goal from freshman Colin Biros (Canton, Ohio) in the 81st minute (80:08) to end the reign of three-time defending NCAA Champion Stanford (12-4-5) with a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Cardinal in the Elite Eight on Friday, Nov. 30.
On the strength of their eighth straight triumph, the Zips (14-6-2) advance to the College Cup for the sixth time in program history (1986, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017, 2018) and will play at Harder Stadium in Santa Barbara, Calif., the site of Akron's 2010 NCAA title on Friday, Dec. 7.
The Zips will learn its opponent on Saturday, Dec. 1, as Michigan State hosts James Madison at 2 p.m. Indiana and Maryland earned Elite-Eight victories on Friday.
Game time and television coverage for Akron's semifinal match at the College Cup will be announced at a later date.
The Zips became the 10th team since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 48 teams in 2001 to earn a berth in the College Cup coming through the draw as an unseeded squad. Akron joins UMBC (2014), Charlotte (2011), UMass (2007), UC Santa Barbara (2006-NCAA Champion), SMU (2005), Duke (2004), Santa Clara (2003), Stanford (2002) and Creighton (2002). The winner of the Michigan State-James Madison will become the 11th member of this exclusive list.
The Zips garnered a two-goal performance on the evening from junior Marcel Zajac (Mississauga, Ontario), who has now scored a point in eight consecutive matches for Akron, and in 10 of the last 11 tilts for the Zips overall.
The Zips recorded an 18-11 margin in shots on the night, including a 7-6 edge in shots on goal. Sophomore David Egbo (Enugu, Nigeria) and Biros posted a game-high three shots each for Akron, while the Zips also received two shots apiece from seniors Morgan Hackworth (Bradenton, Fla.), Abdi Mohamed (Westerville, Ohio) and Marco Micaletto (Rome, Italy), along with freshman Sam Tojaga (Erie, Pa.) and Zajac. Recording a team-best two shots each for the Cardinal were Amir Bashti, Logan Panchot, Zach Ryan and Charlie Wehan.
Senior goalkeeper Ben Lundt (Berlin, Germany) made four saves en route to earning the victory for the Zips, while Stanford goalkeeper Andrew Thomas also garnered four stops for the Cardinal.
Zajac gave Akron an early 1-0 lead scoring an unassisted tally at the 14:09 mark. Zajac flashed a burst of speed strolling inside the corner of the 18-yard box where he struck a ball which hit the far post before bouncing back off the other post and into the net for his ninth goal of the season.
It was the first postseason goal Stanford had allowed since Dec. 5, 2015 at Wake Forest and ended the program's NCAA-record tournament shutout streak at 1,428:09.
Lundt came up with a key save in the 23rd minute (22:02) off a shot from Ryan Ludwick, before Egbo unleashed a shot at the 24:35 mark that was blocked to deny the scoring chance.
Micaletto tallied a shot on goal in the 41st minute (40:54), one that was thwarted by a save from Thomas.
Zajac extended Akron's lead to 2-0 collecting his third career multi-goal performance and second of the postseason connecting on a tally in the 44th minute (43:01) off assists from senior Ezana Kahsay (Asmeras, Eritrea) and freshman Marco Milanese (Isernia, Italy). Kahsay fed a beautiful ball from the top of the box to a streaking Zajac, who struck a shot off Thomas and into the corner of the net.
The Zips maintained a 2-0 lead at halftime on the strength of posting a 6-2 advantage in shots, including 3-1 on net.
The Cardinal recorded three of the first four shots in the final stanza, including a strike from Panchot that was saved by Lundt in the 51st minute (50:53).
Stanford cut Akron's lead in half when Tanner Beason connected on a penalty kick at the 56:14 mark after the Zips were whistled for a foul in the box. The goal was Beason's eighth of the year.
Egbo's header at the 57:31 mark was denied by another save from Thomas.
Less than 10 minutes later in the 68th minute (67:11), Ryan netted the equalizer beating after a ball was played into the box off a free kick and bounced off several players before finding the foot of Ryan for the goal. Jared Gilbey and Adam Mosharrafa were awarded assists on the tally.
Panchot again struck a header in the box for Stanford at the 69:51 mark that was disrupted by a save from Lundt.
Biros had back-to-back shots in the box blocked in the 79th minute (78:50 and 78:53) before delivering the game-winning tally at the 80:08 mark. The first career game-winner for Biros came off a cross served from the corner of the box by Micaletto to the far post where Zajac headed ball back towards a surging Biros, who had a header of his own for his third goal on the campaign.
Lundt denied the final scoring opportunity for the Cardinal making a stop off a shot from Wehan in the 87th minute (86:12).
The loss snapped Stanford's 17-match postseason unbeaten streak. It was the Cardinal's first tournament defeat in 1,469 days, since losing in the second round to UC Irvine, 1-0, on Nov. 23, 2014.
Please check back to GoZips.com in the coming days for ticketing opportunities to watch Akron at the 2018 College Cup.