It was a weekend of ecstasy and heartbreak for Vancouver Whitecaps FC alumni in the final round of the NCAA soccer championships.
While North Carolina duo Amber Brooks and Ranee Premji lifted the NCAA Women's College Cup, they did it at the expense of goalkeeper Erin McNulty’s Penn State University.
On the men’s side, Simon Fraser University’s dream run to the NCAA Division II Final Four came to a halt in Evans, Georgia, when the Clan – boasting former ‘Caps Alex Rowley and Jason van Blerk - were defeated 3-1 in the semifinal stage by Saginaw Valley State Cardinals.
The Tar Heels’ stunning 4-1 victory over the sixth-ranked Nittany Lions at the University of San Diego handed North Carolina’s women’s soccer program its 22nd national championship.
Both Brooks and Premji put in solid performances with the latter scoring her team’s fourth and final goal of the match 15 minutes from time. It was Premji’s fourth goal of the season.
Midfielder Brooks’ equally impressive performance also didn’t go unnoticed, as she was named to the All-Tournament team.
For Penn State, it was a tough day at the office for McNulty, who was enjoying a memorable postseason campaign. Despite the final score, McNulty did her best to keep the Nittany Lions in contention by making seven saves.
A valiant run by Simon Fraser University came to an end, as they were beaten by the Cardinals on Thursday afternoon.
Saginaw Valley built a commanding 3-0 lead before Coquitlam’s Carlo Basso pulled a goal back in the 59th minute to give the Clan a pulse, but no sensational comeback eventuated.
Despite the loss, SFU’s men’s soccer program created history by becoming the first school from outside the United States to reach the Final Four.
Meanwhile, four members of the Clan had their efforts recognized in Daktronics All-American team voting.
Matt Besuschko from Port Moody was named to the first team, Vancouver’s Michael Winter won a spot on the second team, first-year player Ryan Dhillon, from North Delta, was awarded a place on the third team while Basso received an honourable mention.
Great news also came for midfielder Ben McKendry, with the Residency graduate being named Second Team All-Freshmen by College Soccer News.