As the NCAA Tournament field narrows its sights on the National Championship match on Dec. 14, several players with Timbers ties helped their respective programs reach the Elite Eight over the weekend.
Michigan State midfielder and Timbers U-23s captain Fatai Alashe helped the Spartans to a 4-3 win over No. 14-seed Washington on penalty kicks on Sunday, converting the winning strike from the spot to send No. 3-seed MSU into the Elite Eight round. Alashe started and played all 120 minutes as the Spartans overcame a 2-0 deficit to send the match into overtime and, eventually, penalty kicks. Michigan State plays host to No. 11-seed Providence on Friday at DeMartin Soccer Complex in East Lansing, Mich.; kickoff is set for 10 a.m. (Pacific).
The University of North Carolina continued its run in the tournament with a 2-1 upset win over No. 7-seed Clemson on Sunday at Riggs Field in Clemson, S.C. Tar Heels goalkeeper Brendan Moore, who split time in goal with Justin Luthy for the Timbers U-23s during the 2014 PDL season, made seven saves to help UNC reach the Elite Eight. Timbers U-23s defender Kyle Fisher scored for Clemson on a penalty kick in the 24th minute to knot the score at 1-1, but UNC tallied the game-winning goal in the 71st minute to advance. Timbers U-23s midfielder Omar Holness registered an assist on the opening goal for the Tar Heels in the 13th minute. North Carolina is set to face No. 2-seed UCLA on Saturday at Drake Stadium in Los Angeles; kickoff is set for 5 p.m. (Pacific).
Timbers U-23s midfielder Lucas Stauffer registered what would stand as the game-winning assist for No. 12-seed Creighton in a 2-1 win over Xavier on Sunday. Stauffer started and played 90 minutes, tallying an assist on Fernando Castellanos’ goal in the 62nd minute to put the Bluejays ahead 2-0, before Xavier narrowed the score with a goal in the 70th minute. Timbers U-23s defender Jose Ribas put in a full, 90-minute shift for Creighton in the win. The Bluejays advanced to face University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), this year’s surprise team to make a deep run in the tournament, on Friday at Morrison Stadium in Omaha, Neb.; kickoff is set for 2 p.m. (Pacific). UMBC has upset No. 4-seed Maryland and No. 13-seed Louisville on its way to the Elite Eight.