By Ryan Maquiñana
Special to S.F. Examiner
The San Francisco Glens of USL League Two are proud to partner with The Examiner in covering local high school and college soccer.
The road to the College Cup — NCAA soccer’s version of the college basketball Final Four — has begun, and a pair of local schools will host their opening games on Sunday with legitimate national title hopes.
While Stanford is no stranger to the grandest of stages — having won three out of the last four national championships — St. Mary’s is a relative upstart when it comes to the pecking order of powerhouses. Regardless of their path to prominence, however, both earned first-round byes with stellar campaigns and will commence their postseason journeys in the second round.
The seventh-seeded Cardinal (13-2-3) will take on Seattle University (15-3-4) at 5 p.m. in the familiar confines of Cagan Stadium (TV: Pac-12 Network). While Jeremy Gunn’s men saw their string of consecutive Pac-12 championships snapped at five, they continued their streak of elevated play, defeating top programs like Akron and Washington.
Mainstays Zach Ryan and Tanner Beason spearheaded the attack and defense, respectively, while conference Freshman of the Year Ousseni Bouda added a creative flair to the team with five assists to go with five goals.
Meanwhile in Moraga, the Gaels (16-1) has earned a No. 12 seed and will face UC Santa Barbara (13-4-4) at 1 p.m. The Gauchos defeated Cal 3-1 last Thursday in the first round.
Reigning WCC Coach of the Year Adam Cooper has guided the Gaels to a 34-2-2 record the past two seasons with a versatile, balanced team that can win in a variety of ways. With Filippo Zattarin and J.D. Michael anchoring the defensive back line and forward Anders Engebretsen supplying the firepower (16 goals, eight assists), St. Mary’s is a dark horse candidate to make the College Cup.
Should Stanford and St. Mary’s meet, the Gaels will have a chip on their collective shoulder; the Cardinal ended their season in the third round of last year’s tournament on penalty kicks.
Further along I-80 East, 14th-seeded UC Davis (13-4-2) has a Sunday 1 p.m. second-round datewith Louisville (8-7-2), one of 10 ACC schools to earn spots on the bracket. The Aggies, who feature Big West Coach of the Year Dwayne Shaffer and a stingy defense led by All-Conference defender Nabi Kibunguchy, are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.
STANFORD WOMEN A PRIME FAVORITE TO WIN IT ALL
Catarina Macario and No. 1 Stanford women’s soccer (19-1) enter the NCAA Division I Women’s Tournament with unfinished business on their minds.
The Cardinal ran roughshod through the bracket last season only to be upended in the national semifinal by eventual champion Florida State. This time, renewed focus has been the theme, with Macario’s outlandish 27 goals and 23 assists leading the way.
In their tournament opener, Stanford blitzed Prairie View A&M 15-0, as Macario scored four times and notched an additional five assists. Should they get by Hofstra (16-3-2) and their star Lucy Porter in the next round, the Cardinal will host Penn State or Arizona in the national quarterfinal at Cagan Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both games are slated to air on Pac-12 Network.
FORMER SF GLENS MIDFIELDER SILVEIRA IN BEACH SOCCER WORLD CUP
Corte Madera’s Gabe Silveira has been called by U.S. Soccer to play in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Asuncion, Paraguay.
The former Redwood High School and San Jose State midfielder was always a standout in traditional soccer, having starred locally in the USL League Two for the Burlingame Dragons and San Francisco Glens. But when his professional career stalled on the grass, an old mentor came calling.
“Tighe Sullivan, my [junior varsity] high school coach [at Redwood], was an assistant coach for the Beach Soccer national team. He was a big influence on me getting into beach soccer,” Silveira said. “I continued to work hard, improve, loved the sport, and now here I am representing my country.”
Silveira and the United States will face host Paraguay in group stage play on Sunday at 4 p.m. and will air on Fox Sports 2.
Ryan Maquiñana is the Director of Communications for the San Francisco Glens.