Caps In College: SFU head back to Final Four; Ben McKendry flies the flag
SFU Clan continue to do Canada proud after two stunning displays saw them move on to the NCAA II ‘Final Four’ for the second year running, making a farce of their fourth in the west ranking.
Meanwhile over in NCAA I, Ben McKendry remains the last Whitecaps Residency alumni standing after his New Mexico Lobos had a hard fought win over Penn State in snowy conditions to get into the ‘Sweet 16’, whilst Declan Rodriguez’s Milwaukee Panthers unfortunately crashed out in a fiercely contested Wisconsin derby.
NCAA II – SFU
The Clan are heading back to Georgia and back to the Final Four.
SFU headed to Colorado last week to continue their postseason exploits and they produced two stunning performances to match last year’s historic achievement and looking to go two wins better this time around to bring a first ever NCAA championship back to Canada.
If anyone needed proof of the talent, resilience and fighting spirit of the current Clan squad, it came in Thursday’s ‘Sweet 16′ match up with the San Diego Tritons.
With the West Region title and a quarter final place on the line, things were looking bleak for SFU.
Down a goal to Alessandro Canale’s 26th minute opener for San Diego, time was running out for the Clan, despite peppering the Tritons’ goal with shot after shot in the second half.
With less than four minutes remaining, up stepped Jovan Blagojevic (pictured) to bury a Magnus Kristensen cross and send the Clan bench into delirium and the game into extra time.
There were no more goals in the two ten minute periods and the match headed to dramatic penalty kicks.
Carlo Basso, Whitecaps Residency alum Alex Rowley and Colin Jacques all scored for the Clan, but Magnus Kristensen and Alexander Kleefeldt both missed and the shootout was tied at three apiece after each side’s first five kicks.
The Tritons missed their first sudden death kick and it was then left to Jules Chopin to bury the Clan’s sixth penalty and send SFU through to the ‘Elite 8’ with a 4-3 shootout win over the team ranked 2nd in the West.
SFU were back on the pitch for that game less than 48 hours later against the hosting Regis University Rangers and the Clan made a statement on their way to clinching their spot in the semis with a comprehensive 5-0 demolition.
Ryan Dhillon grabbed his ninth of the season to open the scoring for the Clan in the 8th minute and there was no looking back after that.
Colin Jacques took the goalscoring lead with his 10th of the season four minutes before half time, when he hit home an Alex Rowley corner to give the Clan a 2-0 lead at the break.
Second half goals from Carlo Basso and two within a minute from Alexander Kleefeldt and Jovan Blagojevic (for a team lead equalling 10th of the year) saw the Clan go nap and secure their place in Georgia on December 5th.
Well done to Alan Koch and everyone at SFU.
In the build up to the Final Four we’ll be running our second annual “Clan Week” on AFTN next week with interviews, analysis and reports. So watch out for that.
And then there was one.
Ben McKendry is the sole remaining Vancouver Whitecaps Residency alumni in the 2013 NCAA tournament after his New Mexico Lobos came through a tough second round match up at home to George Mason.
The Lobos won 1-0 on a cold and snowy Albuquerque Sunday night, thanks to James Rogers’ 83rd minute winner in front of 1584 chilly fans.
Ben played the full 90 minutes and led the Lobos with six shots.
New Mexico now play host to Penn State on Sunday evening.
The Nittany Lions shocked 10th seeded Santa Barbara in the second round, with a late 1-0 win after the Gauchos were forced to play 84 minutes a man down when the highly rated Fifi Baiden saw red in the sixth minute. We’d tipped the Gauchos to go far in the tournament, so on paper the Lobos look to be facing the easier task.
The game kicks off at 4pm PT and you’ll be able to find a live stream to watch HERE. If the Lobos win, they are on course of an ‘Elite 8’ match-up at Washington Huskies next weekend, which we’ll be heading down for.
But as one of the two remaining Caps marched on, the other headed out.
Declan Rodriguez’s University of Milwaukee had a fierce Wisconsin derby in their tournament first round match up last Thursday.
The Panthers headed to Madison to take on the Wisconsin Badgers and despite outshooting their hosts 14 to 6, it was the Badgers who found the target and Chris Prince scored the only goal of the game on the 13th minute mark. Declan played the full 90 minutes and led the team with four shots.
A first round exit is always tough, but especially so when it comes at the hands at your fierce intra-state rivals. It was an enjoyable game to watch though and this season, including their Horizon League championship, will certainly give the Panthers something to build on next year.
Midfielder Rodriguez finished his sophomore season with 1679 minutes under his belt from 19 appearances. He scored three goals and registered two assists and 30 shots over the season, building on his excellent performance in his freshman year.
So with one Whitecaps alum to cheer on, we’ll be bringing you details of how Ben fares next week. We’re crossing everything for him!