It’s been an exciting week of college playoff action for several Whitecaps FC alums.
Simon Fraser University – with Residency graduates Alex Rowley and Jason van Blerk in their ranks – have reached the Final Four of the NCAA Division II Tournament while goalkeeper Erin McNulty (pictured) starred in a penalty shootout to send Penn State into the Elite Eight of the women’s NCAA Division I competition.
Elsewhere, Ben McKendry’s University of New Mexico made the Sweet 16 phase after winning their second round match on Sunday night.
Starting with SFU, the Clan secured their spot in the Final Four in Georgia after overcoming the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals 1-0 in the Elite Eight on Saturday night.
SFU will now have almost two weeks to prepare for the Final Four, which will take place in Evans, Georgia from November 29.
Rowley and van Blerk’s team will play either Saginaw Valley or Northeastern State in the penultimate round.
In Albuquerque, Ben McKendry played the full 90 minutes as the Lobos ousted the University of Virginia 3-1 in the second round of the NCAA tournament. UNM hosted the match after having a bye in the first round.
The 13th-seeded Lobos now travel to fourth-ranked Connecticut for a Sweet 16 matchup on Sunday.
Down in Florida, and the season is over for recent Canadian U-20 call-up Daniel Stanese as Florida Gulf Coast University were eliminated in a penalty shootout by state rivals University of South Florida.
Despite the loss, Stanese and his fellow defenders finished the season on a positive note, allowing just one goal over 592 minutes.
The season also came to a close for fellow U-20 call-up Callum Irving, who's Kentucky Wildcats fell 1-0 to Xavier in the NCAA tourney.
North Carolina duo Amber Brooks and Ranee Premji are into the quarterfinals after the Tar Heels knocked out ninth-ranked Baylor on penalty kicks in the third round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
It’s North Carolina’s first appearance in the Elite Eight since 2009. They will face third-ranked BYU in Utah on Friday.
Elsewhere, goalkeeper Erin McNulty made a spectacular recovery in the penalty shootout to also send Penn State into the quarterfinals.
The Nittany Lions were trailing 2-0 in the shootout before Whitecaps FC women’s star McNulty pulled out three consecutive stops to clinch the win over Michigan on Sunday night.
Up next for PSU is a home date with Duke on Friday night.
Back to Canada, and last week’s women’s CIS championship triumph by Trinity Western University continued an impressive streak of title wins for Whitecaps FC U-18 graduates.
This year saw a staggering eight former ‘Caps lift the Cup with the Spartans, which included Nikki Wright, Tessa Meyer, Natalie Boyd, Alicia Tesan, Jenn Castillo, Jenna Di Nunzio, Vanessa Kovacs and Lindsey Pulice.
In 2011 and 2010, the successful Queen’s University outfit had Brie Shaw and Mikyla Kay in their ranks while in 2009 and 2008, TWU’s victorious team featured Wright and Meyer (both years) as well as Boyd and Tesan (2009 only).