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A Talented And Deep Akron Team Begins Play In The Big East Conference In 2023.

Almost Everyone Is Back From The 2022 Team.

Coach – Jared Embick – 11th season
Conference – Big East Conference
2022 Record – 11-4 -5, 5-0-3 conference
2022 National Ranking – 23 United Soccer Coaches. 26 College Soccer News
Five Year Win Total
2018 – 15
2019 – 6
2020 – 4
2021 – 9
2022 – 11
Key Departures

Ryan Kingsford – Forward – Two-year starter. Scored 6 goals with four assists in 2021. Scored five goals with five assists in 2022. 2021 All-MAC First Team selection. Transferred to Akron in 2021 from Harcum College.

Renato Kauzlaric – Midfielder – Appeared in 23 games with 15 starts with one career goal and two career assists over 2021 and 2022 seasons. Transferred from UMass Lowell where he played in 32 career games with 26 career starts during the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
2023 Outlook – One of the most interesting storylines at Akron and college soccer in general heading into the 2023 season pertains to the fact that the Zips will begin play in the Big East Conference as an affiliate member in men’s soccer. Akron had been a long term member of the Mid American Conference in soccer where they were firmly established as a frontrunner as reflected in their 21 regular season titles including the 2022 regular season title and their 15 tournament titles with the last coming in 2018.

The Big East will now consist of 12 teams split equally between the East and Midwest Divisions. The Zips will be in the Midwest Division along with Butler, Creighton, DePaul, Marquette and Xavier. There is a lot to like about the Big East Conference . It is among the conferences where just about every team enters the season guardedly optimistic about their chances.

Akron annually plays a very competitive slate of non-conference opponents so the Zips will not be daunted by the level of competition in the Big East. They will however have the inherent challenge that comes with playing against a slate of conference opponents that they may not be familiar with who have different styles of play.

Akron will enter the season with a roster full of experienced players including five All-MAC selections, five All-North Regional honorees, eleven returning starters, players who scored 42 of their 48 goals last year, and their entire starting backline and goalkeeper.

Senior Jason Shokalook (9g, 6a), a 2022 All-MAC First Team selection, returns to power the attack up top along with juniors Terence Okoeguale (2g, 4a) and Josh Hallenberger (3g, 2a) and sophomore Stefan Dobrijevic (3g, 2a).

All-American and All-MAC First Team selection junior Dyson Clapier (7g, 7a) returns to set the pace in the midfield along with junior Malik Henry (0g, 1a), a 2022 All-MAC First Team selection, senior Johnny Fitzgerald (4g. 1a), a 2022 All-MAC Second Team selection, and junior Wan Kuzi Wan Kamal (1g, 7a), a 2022 All-MAC Second Team selection. Senior Josef Paulus (2g, 3a), redshirt senior Sam Tojaga, and senior Maruki Kawahara round out a solid contingent of returning midfielders.

The backline will be solid and experienced anchored by senior Will Jackson (3g, 4a), a team captain, four-year starter and 2022 All-MAC First Team selection, junior Jonas Buechte (1g, 3a), a two-year starter and All-MAC First Team selection, senior Joel Sangwa (4g. 0a) a starter last year and 2022 All-MAC Second Team honoree after transferring in from Iowa Western Community College, and sophomore Ashton Kamden (3g, 5a) who now has the benefit of a year of starting experience under his belt. Sophomores Mani Diop (0g, 1a) and Levi Stephens (0g, 3a) are among other returning backs who figure to be in the mix.

Redshirt sophomore Mitch Budler, a 2022 College Soccer News All-Freshman selection who had a 1.05 goals against average with seven shutouts last year, returns to anchor the defense in goal.

Akron enters a new era in 2023 with most of the roster intact from the 2022 team. It is highly likely that the Zips will be motivated and eager to prove that they can more than hold their own in the Big East Conference. Whether they can remains to be seen.

What we do know is that the 2023 season promises to be an interesting and exciting one for the Zips and the Akron faithful.
Newcomers – (Includes only the four newcomers who joined Akron during the 2023 spring campaign)

Carter Cormier – Defender – Glen Ellyn, Illinois – Played for Shocker FC. Jointed Akron in the spring.

Jackson Herbert – Midfielder – Wadsworth, Ohio – Wadsworth High School – First Team All-State and All-Great Lakes Regional selection at Wadsworth HIgh School. Four-Team All-League selection with with 53 career goals and 23 career assists. Joined Akron in the spring.

Rui Reis – Midfielder – Lisbon, Portugal – Played at Keiser University as a freshman where he scored 14 goals and had ten assists. First-Team All-Sun Conference selection. Named league’s Freshman of the Year. Played with Sporting Lisbon Academy. Joined Akron in the spring. An NAIA All-American.

Alejandro Varela – Midfielder – A Coruna, Spain – Played at Keiser University for three seasons appearing in 83 contests with 80 starts. A two-time United Soccer Coaches NAIA All-America and All-Region selection. Had six career goals and eight career assists. Team captain. Joined Akron in the spring.
Posted in 2023 Team Reviews

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