[MEN'S COLLEGE CUP] Kofi Sarkodie's goal in the 74th minute broke a 1-1 tie and gave No. 1 ranked Akron a 2-1 win over Michigan that returns the Zips to the Men's College Cup final for the second year in a row.
Sarkodie found himself open in the six-yard box and headed home Michael Nanchoff's free kick from the right flank to complete the Akron comeback.
Justin Meram scored on a blast from the top of the box inside the left post just 62 seconds in to the contest to give Michigan the lead, but Perry Kitchen equalized in the 33rd minute on a laser from 30 yards.
Unlike the first meeting of the season, when Akron ran off seven straight goals after giving up an early goal, this time the Zips struggled to find the target. They finished with a 22-9 edge in shots but put just eight on goal.
Sarkodie's goal was redemption for missing an easy header at the far post early in the second half.
Michigan's best chance in the second half came in the 64th minute when Michigan's Soony Saad collected the ball in a crowd of Akron defenders and slotted his shot off the far post.
Colin Porter, the Akron coach, said his team is back to the final where it expected to be.
"In order to win the national championship and in order to make it as far as we have, you have to truly believe you're going to be there," he said. "We're not surprised. We're very grounded and very humble, but we know we have to do well to win on Sunday."
He said Akron was focused on Michigan all week.
"We did not take them for granted, I will tell you that," he said. "Except for a 15-minute lull in the first half, we played very efficiently. We missed a few chances, should have been up two or three goals, but this team is very resilient. We made a few adjustments, which really helped. And I thought the back guys held strong and kept us together. I wouldn't trade those five guys for anybody."
The win sets up a meeting with Louisville, coached by former Akron head coach Ken Lolla.
"I don't think twice about it," Porter said. "He‘s a guy I respect a lot and he's done great things with Louisville. And he did a great job at Akron. I look forward to playing the game, but I don't think differently about any coach or any player. Nothing plays into it any differently. Just prepare my team and hopefully get a good result."
Dec. 8 in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Akron 2 Michigan 1. Goals: Kitchen (unassisted) 33, Sarkodie (Nanchoff) 74; Meram (unassisted) 2.
Akron -- Meves, Valentin, Barson, Korb, Sarkodie, Kitchen, Nanchoff, Ampaipitakwong, Caldwell, Mattocks, Nagbe. Subs: Balogun, Speas.
Michigan -- Blais, Shaw, Opare, Tennent, Quijano, Klemczak, Wood, Alashe, Meram, S.Saad, H.Saad. Subs: Pereira, Harris, Schmitt.
Referee: Alex Gorin.