Caps In College: Ben McKendry sends New Mexico into Final Four
Ben McKendry’s New Mexico Lobos are heading to the NCAA I Final Four, after the Whitecaps Residency alumni scored the only goal of the game in Seattle on Saturday night to see off the threat of the Washington Huskies.
Ben and the Lobos will now head to Philadelphia this week as they look to bring their first national title to the Albuquerque school.
Meanwhile over in the NCAA II Final Four, if you were following Clan Week last week on AFTN, you’ll already know that SFU bowed out of the national tournament to a late winner at the semi final stage.
NCAA I – Ben McKendry (New Mexico Lobos)
The Lobos are going to Philadelphia!
It’s always nice to see Seattle teams get beat. Any sport, any level. It’s even nicer when it comes at the hands of someone with Vancouver connections.
Whitecaps Residency product Ben McKendry’s 37th minute game winner for New Mexico over the Washington Huskies on Saturday night sent the Lobos through to their second trip to the Final Four.
McKendry was the last alumni standing and his goal silenced a large 2240 strong crowd at Husky Soccer stadium on a bitterly cold night and we were down there cheering him on.
The game was played on a rock hard surface, with players finding it hard to keep their footing at times and several chose to wear turf shoes instead of normal grass cleats.
Kicking off in temperatures of minus 3, the night got colder as the game went on, with the wind chill taking temperatures down even further.
McKendry was to warm the hearts, if not the feet, of those there cheering on the Lobos, grabbing the only goal of the game in the 37th minute when an Oniel Fisher ball across goal came to Ben and he had the easy task of hitting it into a gaping net.
It was also nice to have Ben’s celebrations with the team take place right in front of us. I’m sure the Scottish screams of support helped. It certainly brought some strange looks from the Huskies fans all about me!
The goal was Ben’s 5th of the season but none have been more vital than this one. He also registered four shots in the game and was playing high up and causing problems to the Huskies defence throughout.
New Mexico dominated the match and outshot the home team 16 to 8 (and 10 to 1 in a dominant first half display), coming close on several occasions.
Washington were in their first ever Elite 8 match up and whether it was the occasion, the cold or New Mexico’s superiority, but the Huskies struggled to warm up.
We’ll be bringing you a Huskies “Groundhopping” feature on AFTN sometime soon.
New Mexico were ranked the NCAA’s 7th ranked team going into the national tournament, with Washington the second ranked and highest remaining seeds in the last eight.
The Lobos now travel to Philadelphia and their job doesn’t get any easier as they will now face the number three ranked Notre Dame in Friday’s Final Four semi final, as they look to go one better than 2005’s College Cup final loss.
The match kicks off at 2pm PT and will be streamed at NCAA.com.
Well done Ben. We can’t make it to Philly to cheer him on this week, so we’ll make do from doing so from Vancouver instead. Go bring home the trophy.
You can see Ben’s match winning goal against Washington HERE.
NCAA II – SFU Clan
Losing to a late winner hurts at the best of times. Losing a Final Four semi final to a goal with 1:11 left on the clock is just heartbreaking.
That’s how things played out for the SFU Clan down in Georgia, but the 3-2 loss to eventual runners up Carson-Newman Eagles has only given Alan Koch and his team an added impetus to improve and come back even stronger next season.
Whitecaps Residency graduates Alex Rowley and Jason van Blerk will both be moving into their Junior years next season and looking to make it three years and three trips to the Final Four in their time at Simon Fraser University so far.
Rowley finished his sophomore season with 22 appearances and 1617 minutes under his belt. He had two goals and finished in joint second on the team with seven assists. In addition to his key attacking contributions, midfielder Rowley also picked up the GNAC Defensive Player of the Year award.
Van Blerk’s sophomore season saw him start two of the 13 games he played in, registering 282 minutes over the season. He scored in the 9-0 thrashing of Trinity Lutheran in September, in his only shot on goal of the year.