Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Final Four Preview

Hello Rapids fans,

We wanted to give everyone a little preview of the upcoming NCAA Final Four. I will come back tomorrow with the second half of our preview.

Semifinal #1 Akron (23-0-0) VS UNC (16-2-3):

Akron- Coach Caleb Porter has done an outstanding job taking an Akron program built by Ken Lolla and advancing it to the next level. The current group is young, talented and enters into the Final Four undefeated and untied. Akron is lead offensively by a pair of sophomore forwards. Teal Bunbury leads the way with 17 goals in 23 games and Darlington Nagbe is not far behind 10 goals in 23 games. These two are supported by junior Anthony Apaipitakwong (8g, 5a) and redshirt sophomore Michael Nanchoff (5g, 11a). This is a very dynamic group with a great mix of creativity and goal scoring ability. Defensively the group is young and getting better. Kofi Sarkodie leads the group as a sophomore with 2 freshmen and another sophomore rounding out the back 4. Rounding out the defensive unit is freshmen GK David Meaves with his 0.31 GA average. Overall this is a very well balanced group with some depth on the bench that has the ability to step up at anytime. Coach Porter has been able to keep the group focused on the prize which is impressive in itself given the youth in the group.

North Carolina- UNC returns to the Final Four for the second straight year. The group is lead by a trio of seniors in GK Brooks Haggerty, defender Zack Loyd, defender Jordan Graye. All three are legitimate pro prospects. Offensively the group is led by sophomore forwards Billy Schuler (9g, 5a) and Alex Dixon (8g, 1a). To supply these guys is a very talented and creative midfield lead by former U-17 WC veteran, junior Michael Farfan (5g, 4a). The other prime timers are junior Cameron Brown (5g, 3a) and sophomore Kirk Urso (4g, 6a) who has been outstanding in the NCAA tournament. This group has a tremendous amount of big game experience including last year’s march to the championship game. Coach Bolowich is a master tactician with a National Championship to his name so he will certainly have this group ready to combat any team.

Outcome- It is easy to go with the glamorous pick in Akron, but I think there are too many things that point to UNC for this one. The ACC is the most difficult conference in the country with a high level of play in every game that prepares these teams so well for the NCAA tournament. UNC’s experience in the back and grit in the midfield should be able to handle the strengths that Akron possesses. The difference in the game will be whether or not Akron’s youth in the back can handle the multiple options that UNC has going forward. That could be too much for Akron to handle. In the end, UNC’s experience, athleticism and creativity is unlike anything that Akron has played against all year which will favor them. Prediction: UNC-2 Akron-1


Paul Bravo


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