Battle Of BC: SFU eyes on NCAA Championship prize

Battle Of BC: SFU eyes on NCAA Championship prize

Last season saw the SFU Clan make history as the first Canadian college to reach the NCAA postseason. They garnered a lot of attention on their run to the ‘Final Four’ before Saginaw Valley Cardinals ended their season with a 3-1 semi final win.

The Clan won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) with ease and a 16-1-1 record, scoring 67 goals and averaging 3.72 goals per game. Their only defeat came in a 2-1 loss to Northwest Nazarene, which ended a GNAC record equalling 24 match unbeaten streak.

Their 2012 success and playoff run has given everyone at the Clan a taste of what they can achieve.

The Clan’s 19-2-1 overall record last season has seen them ranked third in the initial NSCAA Coaches rankings and hopes are high that another successful season lies ahead, hopefully going all the way to the Championship game.

But head coach Alan Koch is not getting ahead of himself and is continuing his ethos of taking things one game at a time.

“Our goal every year is to win the GNAC Conference Championship. If we are successful in this goal, it normally will help get us selected for the NCAA National Championship.

“As we found out last year, this is a month long amazing experience, and we would love to go all the way. The focus will remain on winning the next match, but we have a group that could accomplish this task.”

One of the keys to continued success for all programs is the ability to manage player turnover. Always improving the squad and replacing key departed seniors with fresh rookie talent.

SFU will have 16 players remaining from last season, after six seniors graduated and another six players moved on. There are 13 new faces joining the Clan for the 2013 season, including 10 Freshmen. With only six seniors on the roster, this group will be together for a good few years.

“We have an enormous new recruit class” Koch told us. “We have BC players, players from other provinces, and a few foreign imports. I’d like to thank my coaching staff for helping me lure this group to Burnaby Mountain.”

So of the new crop, who should fans be looking out for to make their mark?

“It is very difficult to single out any of them as they are all quality. Give it a few games, and we will all see who the impact players are!”

Saturday’s game against UBC will be their second preseason friendly back in BC. They warmed up for this Saturday’s big rivalry game with a 2-1 win over PacWest gold medalists Douglas College Royals on Wednesday evening, with goals from Gilbert Kyne and Lucas Ferritto.

The squad are also just back from a 10 day pre-season trip to Costa Rica where they played two matches, winning one and losing one, but more importantly with all the new faces around, they bonded as a team.

So let’s have a look at some of the key additions, departures and ones to watch at SFU for the coming season.

SFU Ones To Watch

Ones To Watch:

Chris Bargholz

– Midfielder. Junior. 5 goals and 6 assists from 19 games saw the German grab people’s attention last year. Expect some more dominance this year from a player with fourth tier Bundesliga experience. Came to Canada to get an education, which you can read all about in our chat with him last year.

Carlo Basso

– Forward. Senior. 14 Clan goals and 7 assists from his 22 games and a string of Conference and Regional honours. Also a strong showing for Ottawa Fury in the PDL, grabbing 3 goals and 1 assist in his 13 games. Now in his senior year, expect Basso to go out with a bang and make the move to NASL with Ottawa next season. Could be a big local one that the Caps let slip away.

Jovan Blagojevic

– Midfielder. Junior. With a strong attack ahead of him in the depth chart, he only played 12 games last season but contributed big with 6 goals and 4 assists. Following a good PCSL season with Coquitlam Metro Ford, where he made the All-Star team, we expect to see Blagojevic provide a deadly partnership with Basso up front and really start to come into his own this season.

Ryan Dhillon

– Midfielder. Sophomore. An exciting talent that we think could have an explosive stand out season. Only 12 starts in his 22 appearances last season but contributed heavily with 7 goals and 5 assists and was named GNAC Freshman of the Year. A clinical finisher, Dhillon was played this summer for the PCSL table topping Khalsa SC, also making the league’s All-Star team.

Alex Rowley

– Midfielder. Sophomore. A familiar face to Whitecaps fans, the Residency graduate had an excellent freshman year at SFU with 3 goals and a team leading 10 assists. Expect Rowley to continue to develop and boss the centre of the midfield this season. A lot of the Clan’s build up play will go through him. Like his teammate above, Rowley played for Coquitlam in the PCSL and made the All-Star team.

KEY ADDITIONS:

Chris Merriman

– Defender. Junior. A fantastic addition to the backline, Merriman joins the Clan from Vancouver Island University where he won the CCAA Championship in 2010 and was runner up last year. He plays for Victoria Highlanders U21 side and has represented Canada at U17 level.

Glenn Paden

– Forward. Junior. Paden comes to the Clan from NCAA Division 1 Oregon State Beavers, where he scored 3 goals and contributed 2 assists in his 13 appearances. He is part of the Seattle Sounders Academy/U23s, but don’t hold that against him too much.

Scott Shewfelt

– Goalkeeper. Senior. When you lose your two starting goalkeepers you need to bring in a strong replacement and that’s what the Clan have done by adding the big Canadian stopper from London, Ontario. Was playing with Coastal Carolina last season, helping them to a 20-3-2 record and a place in the ‘Sweet 16’. Was also part of the Forest City London team that won the PDL Championship in 2012.

Major Departures:

JD Blakley

– Goalkeeper. Senior. Played in 13 games, recording 11 wins, 5 clean sheets, 10 goals allowed and a .744 save %. Will be big boots to fill.

John Hodnett

– Striker. Senior. Used off the bench a lot last season. The Englishman made 18 appearances and only 3 starts but still grabbed 7 goals and 1 assist. Was playing PCSL this summer with Coquitlam Metro Ford.

Hide Ozawa

– Another senior goalkeeper. Shared duties with Blakley. Played in 10 games, recording 8 wins, 5 clean sheets, 7 goals allowed and a .774 save %. Like his teammate, a big position to fill.

Justin Wallace

– Midfielder. Junior. Huge loss for the Clan in the middle. After two years at SFU, Wallace decided to make the switch to continue his education and football at Thompson Rivers University. He was second on the team with 10 goals scored and 7 assists last season. Played with Kamloops Heat this summer in the PCSL, grabbing 6 goals and making the All-Star team.

Michael Winter

– Midfielder. Senior. Contributed 5 goals and 2 assists in his 22 appearances and was named the GNAC Player of the Year. Spent the summer with Caps PDL side as defender.

Caps Connections:

For Whitecaps fans, there’s a few Caps connections to keep your eye on.

Spencer DeBoice

– Freshman. Whitecaps Residency graduate. Was really coming on to his game for the Caps U18s, grabbing 11 goals. Also did well for the PDL team, scoring 3 goals in 4 games. Will be interesting to see how he develops in his four years at the Clan and what the Caps decide to do with him.

Ryan Dhillon

– Sophomore. Was originally with the Whitecaps Prospects. Would be good to see him add to the East Indian contingent on the Caps PDL team. We’ve covered his achievements and abilities above but he has looked better and better the more we see of him.

Alex Rowley

– Sophomore. Graduated from Whitecaps Residency last year and had an excellent Freshman year, leading the team on assists. He’ll be looking to build on that this year and expect a lot of the play to go through this hard working midfielder.

Jason van Blerk

– Another Residency graduate in his Sophomore season with the Clan. The defender saw limited minutes last year playing in 17 games, but only starting 5. He contributed 1 assist but expect to see the defender get more minutes this season.

Home Games:

SFU have 9 regular season home games scheduled this season. Get out and support the guys on the following dates. Admission is free, as was parking last season with a validated ticket.

Sat Aug 31: v UBC Thunderbirds (Kick off: 7.00pm at Terry Fox Field, SFU Burnaby campus – Preseason

Thu Sep 12: v Hawaii Pacific Seawarriors (Kick off: 7.30pm at Terry Fox Field)

Sat Sep 14: v Trinity Lutheran Eagles (Kick off: 3.30pm at Terry Fox Field)

Thu Sep 26: v SD School of Mines (Kick off: 7.30pm at Terry Fox Field)

Sat Sep 28: v University of Mary Marauders (Kick off: 7.30pm at Terry Fox Field)

Thu Oct 12: v Western Washington Vikings (Kick off: 7.30pm at Terry Fox Field)

Thu Oct 24: v Northwest Nazarene Crusaders (Kick off: 7.30pm at Terry Fox Field)

Sat Oct 26: v MSU-Billings Yellowjackets (Kick off: 3.30pm at Terry Fox Field)

Thu Oct 31: v Saint Martin’s Saints (Kick off: 7.30pm at Terry Fox Field)

Sat Nov 02: v Seattle Pacific Falcons (Kick off: 7.30pm at Terry Fox Field)

Get up the mountain if you can.

[We continue our build up to Saturday’s big #BattleOfBC rivalry game with a season preview of UBC tomorrow evening, so check back on AFTN or that]

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Authored by: Michael McColl

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