[AKRON-SOUTH FLORIDA 2-0]Junior Anthony Ampaipitakwong scored a pair of first-half goals to lead top-seeded Akron to a 2-0 win over South Florida Sunday before a record-setting crowd of 2,700 fans in second-round action of the NCAA Tournament at Lee Jackson field. With 21 consecutive victories, the Zips matched the second longest single-season win streak in NCAA history
"The one thing that I will take away from this game is the total team effort that our team plays with," said UA head coach Caleb Porter. "It seems as though it is always different guys scoring goals and stepping up. I feel good about the fact that this team will find ways to win using different players at different times."
Eight different players recorded at least one shot with Ampaipitakwong and Darlington Nagbe leading the way with three apiece. The win was UA's first in three tries against South Florida and helped atone for a loss to the Bulls in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2007.
Ampaipitakwong gave Akron all the offense it would need in the game's 25th minute with a perfectly-placed shot off a direct free kick that wrapped just inside the left post into the upper corner of the net. The midfielder and Hermann Trophy candidate then provided the game's final margin with another brilliant goal; this time pushing the ball just inside the right post from 22 yards out.
"Anthony is just a big game player and always seems to turn up his play a notch in the biggest games," Porter said. "Special players make those types of plays to win games, especially in the NCAA tournament."
Just as impressive was Akron's collective effort defensively. The Zips held South Florida to just one shot for the match and out-shot USF, 14-1, overall. Because of its swarming defense, UA dominated possession and never allowed the Bulls to develop any continuity with its attack.
"I thought we defended well," Porter said. "Coming into the game we wanted to disrupt their rhythm with pressure. I thought we were able to stop a very explosive, attacking team. South Florida likes to keep possession of the ball and control the game, but we were able to prevent them from doing that tonight."
In doing so, the Zips added yet another milestone to what has already been one of its greatest seasons. With 15 shutouts in 21 games, UA matched the 2005 club for most in program history while also keeping its hopes alive of becoming the first Division I team in 35 years to win a national championship with a perfect record.
Ampaipitakwong is one of seven different UA players to record game-winning goals in 2009 and one of four players to have netted four or more.