Des Moines Menace alumni are on three of the Elite Eight teams in the NCAA Division-I men’s soccer national tournament, as well as one team in the women’s Final Four.
Drake, Akron and Tulsa – teams with former members of the Menace’s Premier Development League squad – advanced in yesterday’s Sweet 16 action. Former Menace Academy player Chelsea Cline starts for UCLA, which prepares for its seventh-straight trip to the women’s College Cup.
The magical ride continues for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament champions, who overcame an early 2-0 deficit to stun Boston College, 6-4, yesterday in Newton, Mass.
Former Menace players Garrett Webb and Michael Noonan (2008) scored for Drake in the thriller, which featured three ties. Webb, the MVC Player of the Year, assisted Noonan. Nick Foster assisted Webb and set up the match’s final score, by Matt Kuhn, who played against the Menace as a member of the Kansas City Brass.
The Bulldogs’ other goals came from former Kansas City players Kevin Shrout (one) and Luke Gorczyca, who put Drake up 4-3 in the 68th minute, then scored the game winner in the very next minute, just eight seconds after the Eagles evened the match.
Jordan Kadlec tended goal for the final 39 minutes, allowing just one score.
The Bulldogs – who also feature former Menace players Julien Edwards, Hunter Kennedy and Thomas Ostrander – opened their run on Nov. 19 with a 2-1 victory over Western Illinois. It was the program’s first-ever win in the national tournament. They advanced to the Sweet 16 by knocking off No. 4 seed Ohio State on Nov. 22, winning on penalty kicks after a scoreless match in Columbus.
Drake plays at fifth-seeded North Carolina on Friday. The Tar Heels kept their postseason alive yesterday by winning 1-0 against Indiana, ending the season for 2009 Menace player Cameron Jordan and the Hoosiers.
Akron (22-0-0) and Tulsa (15-4-2)
The Zips and the Golden Hurricane clash on Saturday. The winner moves on to face the Drake-North Carolina winner in the College Cup, on Nov. 11. Saturday’s quarterfinal tilt is a rematch of Akron’s 1-0 win at Tulsa in the first week of the season.
Top-seeded Akron is chasing history. The Zips are vying to become the first team in 35 years to go undefeated and untied on the way to a national title. Matt Dagilis, a backline staple for the Menace’s 2009 Heartland Division championship team, is part of an Akron defense that has surrendered only seven goals.
Teal Bunbury, who played against the Menace as a member of the Rochester Thunder last summer, leads the nation in scoring. A sophomore classmate of Dagilis and a former high-school teammate of 2009 Menace star Samuel Asante, he has scored 17 of the Zips’ 57 goals, including the game-winner in yesterday’s 2-0 win over Stanford.
Tulsa, the tournament’s No. 8 seed, set up the rematch with a 1-0 win over Northwestern yesterday. In its only other tournament action, the Golden Hurricane needed an overtime goal to beat St. Louis, 4-3, on Nov. 22. Joe Salem, a standout for the Menace in 2008-09, set up Ashley McInness’ game-winner in the eighth minute of OT.
Kyle Cummings, a former Menace Academy player from Norwalk who spent time with the Menace’s PDL team in 2009, has appeared in two matches for Tulsa as a freshman.
UCLA women (21-2-1)
Cline was named to the Pac-10 conference’s all-freshman team. The three-time Parade all-American at Shattuck-St. Mary’s (Minn.) has made 12 starts for the Bruins. She is fifth on the team with 12 points, coming from three goals and six assists.
The top-seeded Bruins came from behind to beat No. 2 Portland, 2-1, on Saturday. Keeping their Final Four streak alive, they face conference rival Stanford on Friday in College Station, Texas. The undefeated Cardinal (24-0) topped UCLA, 2-0, in October.
Notre Dame and North Carolina meet in the other semifinal, a rematch of last year’s championship game.