AKRON, Ohio - Chants of “I believe” greeted the NCAA Division I men’s soccer champion Akron Zips Tuesday night at the James A. Rhodes Arena.
The team entered carrying their trophy, as the crowd stood and cheered. They took to a stage which had a backdrop of the actual nets from the goals used in their championship win over Louisville in Santa Barbara, California.
Dignitaries including the University President Luis Proenza and Akron mayor Don Plusquellic honored the team, with the mayor giving soccer coach Caleb Porter the key to the city.
The key ceremony was followed by the presentation of a super-sized key to the team, so large it took five of them to carry it.
The mayor also announced signs boasting the city as home to the national soccer champions would soon be posted around the city limits.
While graduating players took turns at the microphone, three of them brought Porter to the podium to have him make good on a promise he made to them team before the championship game. The coach promised to let the players paint a streak in his hair.
The streak painting brought the crowd to its feet. The streak – a light green – topped the coach’s head and over-sprayed onto his suit coat.
In the recent Major League Soccer draft, the Zips accounted for five of the first eight picks, and seven Zips were drafted in the first round.
Athletic Director Tom Wistrcill acknowledged the team as a winner on the field and also academically, as the team had a grade point average of 3.5.