Caps In College 2014: Callum Irving leads the way as new college season already in full swing
With the university soccer season now in full swing, and the intra-Conference games starting to get underway, our ‘Caps In College’ section returns for another year. We’ll continue to take a regular look at the progress of some of the more recent graduates from the Whitecaps Residency program as they move on to the college and university ranks in Canada and the US.
We’ll also be bringing you all the news and updates on the SFU Clan in NCAA Division 2 and the reigning CIS Champions UBC Thunderbirds, as they go for the threepeat.
Over the course of the college season we’ll be bringing you updates, stats and videos about the following Residency alumni in NCAA:
Wesley Cain (MF – Wright State University Raiders – Junior)
Quinton Duncan (DF – University of Tulsa Hurricanes – Sophomore)
Brody Huitema (FW – Duke University Blue Devils – Sophomore)
Callum Irving (GK – University of Kentucky Wildcats – Junior)
Ben McKendry (MF – University of New Mexico Lobos – Junior)
Sean Melvin (GK – University of North Carolina Wilmington Seahawks – Sophomore)
Nick Prasad (DF – University of Seattle Redhawks – Freshman)
Declan Rodriguez (MF/DF – University of Milwaukee Panthers – Junior)
Alex Rowley (MF – Simon Fraser University Clan – Junior)
Aymar Sigue (FW – University of Tulsa Hurricanes – Freshman)
Nolan Wirth (GK – Oregon States Beavers – Freshman)
Midfielder Wesley Cain is now in his Junior year with Horizon League side Wright State University. Coming off the back of 19 appearances, two goals and one assists for the Raiders last season, Cain has played in all nine of Wright State’s games so far this year. He has one goal (against Duquesne) and one assist in those games, with the Raiders currently sitting on a 5-3-1 record and an 84 ranking.
The University of Tulsa Hurricanes, of the American Athletic Conference, is now home to two Whitecaps Residency graduates, Quinton Duncan and Aymar Sigue. Tulsa are currently sitting on a 3-4-1 record and a ranking of 59.
Defender Duncan made 20 appearances, 15 of them starts, in his Freshman year with the Hurricanes, scoring two goals. He has started all eight games so far this season, but has yet to register a goal or an assist.
Striker Sigue is in his Freshman year at Tulsa and the 6’2” forward was in demand by a number of universities after his 10 goal and 5 assist season for the Whitecaps U18s and U16 last year. He eventually settled on the Hurricanes and has started all eight games of his rookie college season, grabbing his first NCAA assist against SMU on Friday past, but no goals yet despite a team leading 22 shots.
Both Duncan and Sigue did find the net in a 4-1 preseason win over Central Arkansas in August, with Sigue grabbing a brace.
After spending the summer training with the Caps, striker Brody Huitema returns to Duke Blue Devils for his sophomore year. Huitema played in 19 games in his Freshman season with the ACC side, leading the team with six goals and four assists. He has played in all eight games for Duke so far this year, grabbing a goal and three assists to help the Blue Devils to a 4-3-1 record and a ranking of 41.
You can see Brody’s goal in Duke’s 8-2 win over Stetson below:
Another Residency graduate who was back training with the Whitecaps over the summer was Callum Irving and the goalkeeper has made a tremendous start to his Junior year with the Kentucky Wildcats.
The Wildcats themselves had a mixed start and their 4-3-2 record sees them ranked 38th in the NCCA list. Irving has played all 843 minutes in goal for the Wildcats so far this season, allowing just four goals and recording six clean sheets, including four straight, matching the number he kept last season with nine games to go.
It’s a performance that has seen Irving collect some early season plaudits, winning back to back Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week and College Soccer News National Team of the Week Goalkeeper awards and being named Disney Soccer/ National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) National Player of the Week last week.
It’s going to be great, hopefully, seeing Irving, wearing a Whitecaps jersey in MLS one day.
After reaching last year’s Final Four, Ben McKendry’s New Mexico Lobos are looking to go even further this year, although the loss of a number of key seniors will undoubtedly be a challenge. McKendry was the third of the quartet of Whitecaps Residency alumni to train in Vancouver over the summer and with Carl Robinson telling AFTN that he is very high on the player, it certainly looks like a matter of when and not if he becomes a Caps player in MLS.
A lot will be expected of the talented midfielder in his Junior year and the Lobos have got off a strong start and a 5-2-1 record, seeing the Conference USA side ranked 23 in the NCAA early rankings.
McKendry has played 22 games for the Lobos in each of his first two season at New Mexico, notching 12 goals and 3 assists overall, including the game winning goal over the Washington Huskies that sent the Lobos to last year’s Final Four. He has played in all eight of this season’s matches so far, starting seven, but has yet to register a goal or an assist.
Goalkeeper Sean Melvin and his UNC Wilmington Seahawks have the highest early NCAA ranking from the Whitecaps Residency graduates sides. Their 8-1-1 record from their first ten games sees the Colonial Conference team ranked 20th.
Melvin was the final member of the Caps’ NCAA crew to be back training in Vancouver over the summer and he has played all 954 minutes for the Seahawks as their starting goalkeeper in his Sophomore season, allowing ten goals and recording three shutouts, one more than his total from his rookie season.
Central defender Nick Prasad really started to find his form for the Whitecaps U18s at the turn of this year, and has also seen minutes for the Caps’ PDL and Reserve sides. Now graduated from the Residency program, Prasad had interest from a couple of universities before settling to stay closeish to home with the University of Seattle Redhawks of the Western Athletic Conference.
The Redhawks have got off to a 5-3-0 start, earning them a NCAA ranking of 33. Prasad has played in six of the games for Seattle so far in his Freshman year, starting two, and earned his first NCAA assist in the 3-1 defeat away to UCONN on September 14th.
Midfielder Declan Rodriguez is looking to build on a solid Sophomore season that saw him start 19 games and record three goals and two assists. The Panthers 3-5-1 record to start the season sees the Horizon League side well down the NCAA ranking in 124th spot, with Rodriguez playing in eight of the nine games, all starts, but with no goals or assists coming from his 13 shots.
The final Whitecaps Residency alumni in the American ranks of NCAA is another Freshman, and another goalkeeper, Nolan Wirth.
After a stellar season with the Caps U18s and PDL side, Wirth is now an Oregon State Beaver. The Pac-12 Beavers have got off to a strong 7-2-0 start and are currently ranked 36th by the NCAA.
Wirth is currently sharing goalkeeping duties in Oregon with redshirt Junior Matt Bersano and has played in five of this season’s games, starting four of them. He’s started of his college career with a 3-1-0 record, letting in just three goals and recording two clean sheets.
So that’s our initial NCAA round-up for the season so far. We probably won’t be bringing you a weekly piece this year until the later stages of the season, but we’ll keep you posted on all of the guys’ progress.
NCAA II – SFU Clan
It’s not been the usual strong start to the season for the Simon Fraser University Clan as they seek their third straight Final Four appearance and fifth straight Great Northwest Athletics Conference title. In fact it’s been something of struggle so far.
Sending offs and sloppy defending have cost the Clan dear on their way to a 2-2-2 record. After winning their first two games comfortably (3-0 against Sonoma State Seawolves and 4-2 over Hawaii Hilo Vulcans), the Clan have failed to win in four and dropped out of the NCAA II rankings, which is likely to have a devastating effect on their end of season seeding.
The Clan’s usually impeccable home record was hit hard last week with both of their games going to overtime, and resulting in a 3-3 draw with Montana State Billings Yellowjackets and a 3-2 loss to Northwest Nazarene Crusaders. SFU were sitting comfortably in both games before a second half sending off let their opponents back into the games and away from Burnaby Mountain with points.
It was Whitecaps Residency alumni Alex Rowley who saw red on Saturday night against the Crusaders for a second bookable offence, as the Clan blew a 2-0 half time lead, the first of which was an assist from Rowley.
Rowley is in his Junior year at SFU and has contributed four assists in his six games so far.
CIS – UBC Thunderbirds
There’s no stopping the UBC Thunderbirds right now. The defending back to back CIS National Champions are going strong once again in the new season, posting a perfect 6-0-0 record and topping the Pacific Division of Canada West by three points from the University of Victoria Vikes.
The Thunderbirds are packed with Whitecaps connections, all of them making an impact for the team once again this season. The newest recruit is Residency graduate and Caps PDL player Chris Serban, who has started all six games, registering one assist.
UBC have outscored their opponents 19 to 2, keeping clean sheets in their last three games. Leading the way in the goalscoring charts is Caps’ Residency alumni Navid Mashinchi with five goals and six assists, with Caps’ PDL players Niall Cousens (four goals and two assists) and Sean Einarsson (three goals and one assist) not too far behind.
Mashinchi leads CIS in assists right now, and special note to Caps PDL Player Brett Levis of Saskatchewan, who leads CIS in goals with six. The Whitecaps are keeping a close eye on Levis with an eye to USL PRO next year.
The Thunderbirds are currently ranked number one throughout all of CIS. Can they threepeat? I certainly wouldn’t doubt them right now. Get out and see them for yourselves this weekend. UBC host the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack on Friday night and the UBC Okanagan Heat on Saturday. Both games kick off at Thunderbird Stadium at 7pm.