'Caps at College - NCAA Tourney Update

WFC alumni vie for various collegiate championships

SFU soccer 2013

Photo Credit: 
Photo Credit: Ron Hole/Simon Fraser University

VANCOUVER, BC - South of the border, another successful season in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is concluding for several products of Vancouver Whitecaps FC youth development programs as many ‘Caps continue their quest for the national championship at various tiers of play.

The NCAA players will look to join some of their Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) teammates who also just recently celebrated their own national championships north of the border.

MEN

Whitecaps FC Residency graduate and freshman, Brody Huitema, earned some outstanding ACC honours this past week, as he was selected to the ACC Third-Team and All-Freshman Team. The rookie striker led all Duke scorers with six goals and four assists. Huitema finished second among all ACC rookies in goals and points.

Residency graduate and University of Kentucky sophomore goalkeeper, Callum Irving, got some terrific news last week, as he was named to the 2013 Conference USA All-Tournament Team.

The Wildcats were not as lucky though, as they were downed by the University of Charlotte in a 1-0 tough fought loss. Irving, a 2013 first-team All-Conference USA selection, finished with one save in the contest, and ended the year with a 1.09 goals-against average, the 11th best total in Kentucky history, while his six clean-sheets tied for the ninth highest in single season history.

Like Irving, Ben McKendry, a midfielder for New Mexico was also named to the All-Conference USA first team for the second straight season. Last year, he also received Newcomer of the Year honours. The Lobos have benefitted greatly from the play of McKendry, as they are fresh off a 1-0 triumph over George Mason in the second round of the NCAA Division I tournament which took place on November 24. The tournament’s seventh seeded Lobos will meet the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Sweet 16 on December 1.

The University of North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks fell short to nationally-ranked William & Mary in the Colonial Athletic Association men’s soccer championship for a place in the NCAA tournament on November 14. The Seahawks were backstopped by Residency grad Sean Melvin, who made one save in the 6-3 defeat to end the season.

The University of Tulsa Hurricanes and defender Quinton Duncan had their hopes of a fifth Conference USA Men’s Soccer title snapped in a 1-0 defeat in the final against the University of North Carolina at Charlotte on November 17. It was a heartbreaking end to the season for the Hurricanes, as Duncan finished the year with two goals, including one game winner, in 20 appearances.

Former U-18 Residency player, Declan Rodriguez and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee rolled into the NCAA Tournament with a head full of steam off five straight victories, including capturing the Horizon League Tournament Championship with a 2-0 win over #23 University of Illinois at Chicago.

However, the NCAA Tournament was not nearly as friendly, as the Panthers applied immense second-half pressure on the University of Wisconsin, but could not find the equalizer in a tough 1-0 loss in the opening round of the tournament. Rodriquez started and logged 90 minutes of action, registering one shot on goal in the season ender.

The Wright State Raiders fell short in the Horizon League semifinals in a 1-0 overtime defeat to the University of Illinois at Chicago on November 16. Residency grad Wesley Cain ended the season with two goals, one assist, and 30 shots in 19 appearances.

At Simon Fraser University, Alex Rowley was recognized for his part in the Clan’s successful season, as he was named to the Daktronics All-West Region second team to go along with his GNAC Defensive Player of the Year award he got the week before. In 21 games, Rowley registered two goals, both coming in the postseason, and seven assists.

The team, also featuring Residency alum Jason van Blerk, has enjoyed even greater success, as the Clan reached the Final Four of the NCAA Division II Tournament in California. They kicked off the opening round of the tournament by thumping Cal Baptist 5-0, and then winning 2-1 over Cal State University, Los Angeles. They then had an epic battle with University of California, San Diego where they tied 1-1 in regulation, but won 4-3 in penalty kicks to advance to the Elite Eight, as Rowley converted one of the four PK tallies for the Clan.

SFU then made a statement in the match against the bracket’s first seed, Regis University, by destroying them by a score of 5-0. The Clan were named GNAC Co-Team of the Week for the performance, and now will meet the Carson-Newman Eagles on December 5. For head coach Alan Koch’s side, this will be a chance to shake the nightmares of last season, as they were knocked off in the Final Four by the Saginaw Valley Cardinals.

WOMEN

Freshmen teammates Summer Clarke and Emma Fletcher saw their seasons come to an end, as their LSU Tigers were upended 1-0 bu Auburn in the first round of the SEC tournament. Despite heartbreak on the field, the girls were honoured off the field as part of the National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) Team Academic Award.

Elise Wyatt and the DePaul University women’s soccer team faced off against Indiana University on November 16 in the first round of the NCAA Division I tournament. The Blue Demons kept it at zeroes for almost the entire match until a defensive breakdown in the 76th minute of play allowed the Hoosiers to escape with a 1-0 victory. Regardless of the tough result, Wyatt enjoyed a fantastic sophomore season for DePaul, as she led the team in scoring with seven goals and four assists.

At Oregon State, senior striker Jenna Richardson was selected to the Pac-12 All-Academic First-Team for her accomplishments in the classroom and on the field, and senior midfielder Erin Uchacz was named Pac-12 Honorable Mention for her excellent work both academically and athletically as well. In total, eleven Beavers earned Pac-12 All-Academic Honours.

In the Ivy League, sophomore Lucielle Kozlov of Dartmouth College was named to the 2013 All-Ivy League Honorable Mention Team. Kozlov registered three goals and two assists in 17 appearances for the season.

Elsewhere in the NCAA bracket, Lexi Marton and the Penn State Nittany Lions kicked off their NCAA Division I Tournament run with a 3-0 blanking of Monmouth University on November 15. The run was short-lived though as they were upended by Wake Forest University in the second round on November 22 off a late goal in the 81st minute to complete the shocking upset.

The #9 Santa Clara Broncos, starring Whitecaps FC alumni Brittany and Nikki Ambrose, kicked off the NCAA Division I Tournament with a 2-1 first round triumph over the California Golden Bears. Brittany Ambrose earned an assist on the game-winning tally to send the Broncos to the second round where they beat #25 Boston University by an identical score of 2-1. Santa Clara could not keep the dream run going though as they were ousted by #4 Virginia Tech in the Sweet 16 by a 3-1 margin in penalty kicks after being tied at ones.

Finally, Washington State University, who feature three former ‘Caps (Gurveen ClairNicole Setterlund, and Katie Turney) were tossed from the NCAA Division I Tournament in the first round. After 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, the Cougars were beat in penalties by a close score of 3-1 as the Illini advanced. Junior goalkeeper Gurveen Clair did receive some good news though after the loss, as she was one of 10 student-athletes who garnered Pac-12 academic recognition.