Rothrock U-18s
Charis Wilson

Sounders on Campus: Academy products compete in NCAA Tournament

With the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament well underway, it’s time to look back and evaluate the performances of the numerous Sounders Academy alums who are now plying their trade at the collegiate level.

University of Washington 3 vs. Seattle University 2

The Huskies kicked off the opening round of the tournament by hosting cross-town rival Seattle University in a local college soccer derby. 

The hosts piled on the pressure from the opening whistle, generating two quality looks within the first 10 minutes, only to be stonewalled by SU goalkeeper Josh Adachi. All of that pressure paid off in the 24th minute, when Blake Bodily burst free down the left-hand side and whipped in a cross for Kyle Coffee, who calmly dispatched his shot into the back of the net. On the brink of halftime, Rave Green youth team product Habib Barry was put through on goal by Sergio Rivas, calmly sliding his shot under Saif Kerawala for the equalizer. SU maintained the momentum in the second half, grabbing the go-ahead goal in the 63rd minute. Once again, the match was levelled in the 88th minute when Elijah Rice picked the pocket of an SU defender and drove through on goal, beating Adachi with a powerful finish. But it was the Redhawks’ who advanced to the next round, courtesy of Gabby Ruiz’s world-class, golden goal in overtime. 

The match featured several impressive performances from Sounders Academy alums. UW midfielder John Magnus set the tempo of the match with his range of passing from his deep-lying playmaker role. Ivory Randle, SU’s left back, put in a fantastic shift, absolutely locking down the left flank. Bwana provided constant creativity whenever he was on the ball, but an injury the 67th minute cut his evening short. In total, seven Sounders Academy products featured in the heated match at Husky Soccer Stadium.

Seattle University 0 at Akron 3

Seattle University Head Coach Pete Fewing opted for three Sounders Academy players -- Connor Noblat, Habib Barry and Ivory Randle IV -- in his starting lineup in the next round against Akron University. The Zips got on the board early, scoring in the seventh minute, and maintained control for the remainder of the match. Randle once again put in an excellent, two-way shift at left back, while Alex Roldan, the younger brother of Sounders FC midfielder Cristian Roldan, nearly scored on a couple of occasions. Akron went on to win 3-0 with Rave Green product Nick Hinds impressing in a brief cameo off the bench. 

Michigan 2 vs. Colgate 3

Freshman defender Jackson Ragen, who led the Sounders U-18s to a best-ever third-placed finish in last year’s USSDA playoffs, got the start at center back for the Wolverines. The hosts jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and looked like they might cruise to a comfortable victory. But Colgate pulled one back in the 16th minute from a corner kick. Ragen did well to apply pressure to the shooter, putting him off balance as he rose to head the ball, but the Michigan goalkeeper was caught out of position and, although he saved the initial effort, the visitors hammered the rebound home. Colgate then pulled level in the 40th minute from a close-range shot. Ragen did not start the second half, but after the visitors pulled ahead in the 87th minute, he was put on as a target forward. But it was too little, too late for the Big Ten regular season champions as they were bounced from the tournament. 

Clemson 1 vs. Coastal Carolina 3

In another major upset, the Clemson Tigers were ousted from the tournament by a surging Coastal Carolina squad. Sounders Academy alum Harrison Kurtz came off the bench and played 19 minutes, registering one shot on target, but he was unable to help close the deficit. Kurtz, a sophomore, finished the season with the third-most assists (4) on the squad, and impressive accolade for such a young player on such a talented roster.

Wisconsin 1 vs. Notre Dame 0

The Fighting Irish were unable to find a way past Wisconsin’s sturdy defense, falling 1-0 in the second round. Sounders Academy product Paul Rothrock, who scored for S2 back on July 7 and received a call-up to the U.S. U-18 national team in September, did not feature in the match. The Badgers will face Nick Hinds and the Akron Zips in the third round this weekend.

University of San Francisco 2 vs. California 1

Seattle native Sean Bowman’s late-season form continued into the tournament, as the dynamic forward scored the game-winning goal in the 79th minute over PAC-12 side Cal. With the score all level, the Academy alum made a clever run to the back-post, ghosting past his marker, and calmly applied the first-time finish. Cal opened the scoring in the 46th minute, but that goal was cancelled out through Bryce Kaminski’s deflected goal just four minutes later.

University of San Francisco 2 vs. Louisville 3

The Dons’ late-game magic ran out in the next round against Louisville. Despite coming back from a one-goal deficit twice in the match, Louisville’s tally in the 78th minute sealed their fate. Bowman once again got on the score sheet, finishing off a clever 1-2 exchange with Kaminski. Throughout the match, he showcased intelligent off-the-ball movement and an ability to turn out of pressure and meander through tight spaces. The forward from Bothell finished off the season with ten goals and two assists from 16 starts.

Indiana University 3 vs. Old Dominion 0

Freshman goalkeeper and Sounders Academy alum Trey Muse continued his historic season by guiding the Hoosiers to a comfortable 3-0 win over Old Dominion. The young shot-stopper made on save on the night, registering his fourth straight shutout, and 17th clean sheet of the season. An exciting prospect to watch, Muse will look to anchor the Hoosiers’ sturdy defense as they make a run in the NCAA tournament.

Dartmouth 0 vs New Hampshire 0 (NH won 4-1 on PKs)

Sounders Academy product Henry Baldwin put in yet another fantastic shift at center back in their opening round loss to New Hampshire. Playing 120 minutes at the heart of Dartmouth’s defense, Baldwin restricted the opponent to just three shots on target. Unfortunately for the Seattle native, he and his team came up against a goalkeeper in inspired form during the shootout, falling 4-1. Baldwin placed his penalty into the bottom left corner with plenty of pace, but he was denied by a full-extension save from New Hampshire’s goalkeeper. With the win, New Hampshire will face Muse and Hoosiers in the third round. 

The full bracket for the NCAA Tournament can be found here.