Akron books return trip to College Cup for first time since 2010

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Adam Najem rifled a free kick from the top of the box past the outstretched arms of Connor Sparrow in double overtime to send Akron back to the College Cup for the first time since they won it in 2010.

Najem’s goal in the 102nd minute came after a wild second half that saw the Zips (18-3-2) and Creighton (19-3) score four goals in the final half hour. The goal was the 10th of the season for Najem, a junior from Clifton, N.J. who played in the Red Bulls Academy.

Victor Souto broke the scoreless tie with a penalty in the 60th minute after Richie Laryea was taken down in the box, but the Blue Jays tied it up four minutes later when Fabian Herbers assisted a Fernando Castellanos goal.

Akron regained the lead in the 80th minute with a goal from New Zealand youth international Stuart Holthusen but couldn’t keep one of the nation’s most potent offenses off the scoreboard. Herbers combined with Ricardo Perez on a give and go that leveled the game in the 85th minute. The assist was the 18th for the nation’s assist leader to go with 16 goals.

With the win, Akron advances to the College Cup for the third time and first time since Caleb Porter – who is coaching the Portland Timbers in tomorrow’s MLS Cup – guided the Zips to the national title game two years in a row, winning it in 2010.

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