Whitecaps FC nation, we are officially down to the Final Four.
And the best news is, there are three colleges that feature ‘Caps alums still in contention for NCAA glory in their respective brackets.
In the men’s NCAA Division II draw, only former Residency players Alex Rowley (pictured) and Jason van Blerk remain in the hunt for national glory with Simon Fraser University after Ben McKendry’s University of New Mexico were eliminated in the NCAA Division I bracket in heartbreaking fashion.
On the women’s side, Erin McNulty continues to be a star in net for Penn State University while Amber Brooks and Ranee Premji are playing pivotal roles for the University of North Carolina.
The SFU Clan have arrived in Georgia ahead of their NCAA Division II Final Four campaign, which gets underway on Thursday against Saginaw Valley Cardinals in the town of Evans. The match will kick off at 11 a.m. PT and will be streamed live on the internet at this link.
Alan Koch’s team – which prior to the NCAA tournament won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference - will be aiming to become the first Canadian school to win an NCAA National Championship.
In reaching the semifinal stage, the Clan – who are the number one seed left - beat the Grand Canyon University Antelopes to win the West Regional Championship before eliminating South Central champions University of the Incarnate Word in the Elite Eight.
SFU’s opponents, Saginaw Valley, were ranked second in their region but knocked off top seeds Rockhurst and Northeastern State.
The other semifinal will see second-seed Lynn take on No. 3 Mercyhurst.
The Div. II final is scheduled for Saturday, December 1 at 9 a.m. PT.
Meanwhile, Ben McKendry’s dream of Division I glory in 2012 ended when his University of New Mexico fell 2-1 in double overtime away to the University of Connecticut in their third-round clash.
McKendry was in the thick of the action throughout the match with his slick passing and he almost scored the match-winner for the Lobos in the 88th minute.
Whitecaps FC women’s team goalkeeper Erin McNulty was superb for Penn State University once again, shutting out Duke to give the Nittany Lions a 1-0 win and their first appearance in the Women’s College Cup (Final Four) since 2005.
With the Blue Devils controlling the majority of possession in the second half as they searched for the equalizer, Penn State’s defence held firm while McNulty made five big saves to preserve the lead.
PSU now travel to San Diego for the Women’s College Cup, where they will take on Florida State this Friday night (Kick off 5:30 p.m. PT).
McNulty could come up against former Whitecaps FC women’s players and current North Carolina pair Amber Brooks and Ranee Premji in the NCAA women’s Championship game, with the Tar Heels taking on top-seed Stanford in the other semifinal. That match will begin at 8 p.m. PT.
UNC, ranked 14, made it to their first College Cup since 2009 thanks to a thrilling 2-1 overtime win away to third-ranked Brigham Young University in an Elite Eight contest in Utah last Friday night.
Midfielder Brooks had three shots in 67 minutes while Premji managed 24 minutes after coming on as a substitute.
The two women’s semifinals will be played at San Diego’s Torero Stadium.