Sounders on Campus

Sounders on Campus: Academy alums charge into NCAA tournament

Handwalla Bwana UW vs. Seattle 2016-09-27

With the NCAA men’s soccer regular season all wrapped-up, a number of Sounders Academy alums will compete in the NCAA Tournament when it opens later this week. In total, nine of the 48 programs will feature Sounders youth team products.

The University of Washington earned a first-round bye after finishing the regular season ranked No. 11 in the country. After winning six matches in a row, the Huskies lost their final two matches of the season to San Diego State and Oregon State University. The Huskies’ dynamic duo of Henry Wingo and Handwalla Bwana were shut out by a pair of former Sounders Academy defenders, as center backs Mac Clarke (SDSU) and Jalen Markey (OSU) helped push UW to a pair of losses tol lose the regular season.

An exciting attacking prospect, Bwana finished his freshman campaign as UW’s point leader with four goals and seven assists.

The Huskies may face off against another SSFC Academy product if the University of Portland manages to defeat New Mexico in the first-round. Goalkeeper Paul Christensen enters the tournament in the form of his life after leading the Pilots to a West Coast Conference title with a clean sheet against Saint Mary’s College, taking his goals-against-average to .98 on the season.

The Junior from Woodinville High School has tallied 227 saves in just three seasons as the undisputed No. 1 for UP.

The first-round matchup between San Diego State University and UNLV sees freshman striker Maliq Cooper face off against fellow Academy product, Mac Clarke. Cooper and the Rebels won the Western Athletic Conference title after topping Air Force 2-1 in the final. The first-year forward, who collected one goal and four assists, will go head-to-head with Clarke, who has started 13 matches for the SDSU, helping the Aztecs to a GAA of just .68.

The winner of the SDSU-UNLV matchup will take on a Denver squad featuring SSFC Academy alums center back Tobi Jnohope, left back Tosh Samkange and striker Ryan Schaefer. After finishing consecutive campaigns undefeated in regular season play, the trio will hope for a deep tournament run for the No. 4 Pioneers.

Winger Seyi Adekoya and UCLA will host Colgate in a first-round matchup. The Lakeside High School alum finished the regular season with three goals and three assists, and will look to use his creative attacking abilities to lead the Bruins into the next round.

Freshman Nick Hinds has gone from strength to strength for the University of Akron this year. After cementing his place in the starting lineup as a left back, Hinds shifted over to right back before transitioning into midfield. Despite shuttling all over the pitch, the Sounders Academy alum has started 17 of 20 matches for the Zips, recording three goals and four assists.

In fact, his recent move into midfield paid dividends in the Mid-American Conference Championship game, as he scored both goals in 2-1 victory over Buffalo. His performance earned him a spot in College Soccer News’ Team of the Week.

Henry Baldwin, the starting center back for last year’s Sounders U-18 squad, scored his first career goal in Darthmouth’s win over Cornell, which earned him Ivy League Rookie of the Week. The Big Green then won the next match against Brown, which saw them advance to the NCAA Tournament first-round versus St. Francis.

Seattle University narrowly missed out on the Tournament after falling to Air Force in the semifinal of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. Senior defender Kyle Bjornethun earned WAC Defender of the Year Honors for his outstanding campaign.

The full tournament bracket can be found here

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