It’s tough to earn playing time on Akron’s second-ranked men’s soccer team, especially for young players. Freshman Andrew Souders, however, has managed to earn five starts and 11 total appearances for the Zips during their impressive 12-1-2 season that has Akron eyeing another national title in coach Caleb Porter’s final year at the helm.
Once he realized he could play with the veterans, the Amherst-Steele graduate started to earn respect.
“It was hard, a lot of guys were fighting for spots so I had to work for it,” Souders said. “I had to be confident in myself and realize that I’m there for a reason and the team has faith in me. I couldn’t let the pressure get to me.
“Everyday we were battling it out with the guys because there’s such great competition, but it keeps you engaged. You have to work hard at it to see time on the field, especially as a freshman.”
He emerged as the starter in Akron’s first game, the home opener against Florida Golf Coast. The Zips won 4-0.
“Andrew is tough, mentally stable and has a lot of winning qualities,” Porter said. “When you’re looking to win big games like we are, you need players who are mentally tough. We trust him enough that we can start him when needed to.”
One of those situations occurred Wednesday against Ohio State. Porter put Souders in for the final 10 minutes of the game when the Buckeyes were pressing the Akron goal to try and tie it up. The defense didn’t break, and preserved a 1-0 victory.
Souders, and the entire Akron defense, have been virtually impenetrable. Coach Porter gives some of the credit to the Zips’ possession offense, but Akron has only allowed four teams to score, giving up just six goals. The Zips had a streak of eight straight shutouts since their 3-1 loss to No. 8 Notre Dame on Sept. 9 — Akron’s only loss of the season and the only game where the Zips allowed more than one goal. The Zips broke the streak in a 2-1 win against West Virginia last Saturday.
“As the season went on, my confidence went up, and that’s a major part of being successful,” Souders said.
Souders settled in on finance for a major and, like most freshmen, is still undecided on his career path. He loves spending time outdoors — rock climbing or kayaking — in addition to playing tennis from time-to-time. When he has free time, he spends it relaxing in the dorms with his friends.
** Elyria Catholic graduate Ryan Lutke picked a great time to score his third goal of the season, the freshman scored the first goal in a 2-1 upset victory over Gannon University, ranked 12th in Division II, on Wednesday. The win clinched The Rock a playoff spot in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament.
KUHMAN TOP 20
Elyria Catholic graduate Dan Kuhman took 16th place at the NCAA Pre-National Cross Country Championship in Louisville, Ky. on Oct. 13. The sophomore clocked in at 24:42.80, which was the best time for Memphis.
** Dayton senior and Amherst-Steele graduate Kyle Lowry finished 59th at the NCAA Pre-National Championship with a time of 25:22.50, which was the second-best time for the Flyers.
** Ashland senior Gary Haglund finished 28th at the GLIAC Conference Championships at Norwood University on Oct. 20. The Amherst-Steele graduate clocked in at 25:21.30 and the team finished second of 15.
** Senior Michelle Clark’s time at the 23:04 led Denison at the Gettysburg Invitational on Oct. 13. The Elyria Catholic graduate finished 14th.
** Ithaca’s cross country team took second on Oct. 20 at the New York State Collegiate Track Conference Championships hosted by Nazareth at Center Park in Fairport, N.Y. Sophomore Alexa Rick — an Elyria Catholic graduate — finished 16th, the second-fastest time on the team, in 23:48.93.
** John Carroll freshman Angelica Bucci placed 179th at the Brooks Invitational, hosted by UW-Oshkosh at the Lake Breeze Golf Club in Winneconne, Wisc. The Amherst-Steele graduate clocked in at 24:33.13.
** Keystone graduate and Capital junior Samantha Watts finished 219th with a time of 25:50.20 at the Inter-Regional Rumble at Oberlin College.
Jacki Street celebrated her Senior Night by becoming the eighth player in Heidelberg’s volleyball history to record 1,000 kills in her career during a 3-0 victory against John Carroll. The Midview graduate finished with 10 kills on the night and is third on the team with 236.
** Elyria Catholic graduate Sara Kaminski witnessed Street’s accomplishment. The John Carroll freshman had 13 digs in the loss and leads the Blue Streaks with 463. The former Lorain County Miss Volleyball recorded 28 digs — the most she’s had in a three-set match — in John Carroll’s first OAC victory of the year, over Muskingum on Oct. 13. She has nine 20-dig matches.
** Wisconsin sophomore Deme Morales had a career-best 18 digs in a 3-1 loss to Indiana on Oct. 19. The Amherst-Steele graduate and former Lorain County Miss Volleyball is third on the team with 130 digs.
** Elyria graduate and Cleveland State senior Amanda Medvetz has 362 digs (4.64 per set), a team high. She had a match-high 16 digs Oct. 19 in a 3-0 win over Milwaukee.
** Wooster junior Zoe Zwegat made her return to the Fighting Scots lineup Oct. 19 after missing time due to injury and quickly made an impact. The Elyria Catholic graduate and former Lorain County Miss Volleyball accounted for seven of Wooster’s 14 blocks (three solo) in a 3-2 win over Ohio Wesleyan.
** Junior Tara Skinner had 29 digs in a 3-1 loss to Westminster on Oct. 20. The Community Christian graduate leads Grove City with 446 digs.
** Kent State sophomore and Amherst-Steele graduate Kayee Koller has 52 digs on the season.
STRIMBU STILL STARTING
Freshman Dana Strimbu continues to start in goal for Otterbein and has recoded 35 saves. The Avon Lake graduate improved her record to 8-3 with a 2-1 win over Mount Union and recorded her third shutout of the year in a 5-0 victory over Heidelberg. Her sister, freshman Jillian Strimbu, has played in all 16 games with three goals on the year.
** Junior Katelyn Peterson has started all 17 games for Ashland University. The Vermilion graduate has two shots on goal.
** Freshman Samantha Potoczak made 15 appearances in 17 games for Lafayette. The Lake Ridge Academy graduate started in three, recorded one assist and 15 shots.
** Junior Taylor Miller played in nine games with four starts for Cleveland State. The Avon Lake graduate recorded three shots and took five corner kicks.
CHIRICOSTA LEADS FALCONS
Junior Nikki Chiricosta played a key role in Bowling Green winning the Toledo Invitational title. The Avon Lake graduate went 5-1 in singles and paired with Emily Reuland to go 3-0 in doubles.
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or email@example.com.