The University of Redlands women's soccer program enjoyed its 13th consecutive winning season in 2012, accumulating a 10-5-3 overall record and a 7-5-2 mark in conference. In addition to scoring some fantastic goals and winning a number of exciting games, the Maroon and Gray reveled in a season full of accolades for both on- and off-field successes.
In a thrilling season-opener on August 31, the Bulldogs tied Pacific University (OR) in a 2-2 decision. Senior midfielder Meghan King (Portland, OR) paced the Bulldog attack on the night, dishing out one assist while also scoring a goal.
Ten days later, Redlands faced off against another Northwest Conference opponent, Lewis & Clark College (OR). Freshman midfielder Summer Norquist (Boise, ID) found the back of the net for the first time in a Bulldog uniform to put the Maroon and Gray up late in the first half. King notched her second score of the young season midway through the final frame, sealing the important preseason triumph. Beyond the win, Redlands dominated the Pioneers in many areas, highlighted by an impressive 26-6 shot advantage that included 14 on-frame attempts. Furthermore, this marked the team's first of seven shutouts on the season, as the Bulldog backline effectively stifled the opposing attackers. Led by senior defenders Ellie Harrington(Seattle, WA) and Maddy Cartwright (Salt Lake City, UT), Redlands went on to record eight shutouts on the season.
With the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) season right around the corner, the squad geared up for its opener against the Tigers of Occidental College. Similar to the previous outing, the team looked to another member of the talented rookie class to initiate the offense, when freshman forward Jennifer Franklin (Shoreline, WA) scored the first goal of her Redlands career. She finished off of a nice combination from sophomore forward Kristen Arroyo (San Diego, CA) and sophomore midfielder Kate Van Vuren (Seattle, WA) by launching her shot past the oncoming goalkeeper. Junior forward Lihini Weerasinghe (Redlands, CA) and King tacked on goals after the halftime break to secure the three-goal victory for the Bulldogs.
After recording its first loss of the season with a one-goal defeat to nationally ranked Cal Lutheran University on September 15, the Maroon and Gray bounced back against Chapman University during its midweek outing with a dramatic victory. With the game scoreless through 86 minutes, sophomore forward Sierra Duarte (Portland, OR) went on a dynamic run toward the Panther 18-yard box and found freshman midfielderSavannah Laursen (Boise, ID), who ripped the shot into the back of the net for the score. Senior midfielder Kendall Pegan (Lafayette, CA) sealed the Bulldog victory with just one second left on the clock, tucking a shot into the bottom corner of the net.
The momentum continued as Head Coach Suzette Soboti led the team to another conference win, this time in double overtime on the road against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges. During that second extra period, Duarte connected with senior forward Samantha Rivera (Thousand Oaks, CA) with a cross from the right side, and Rivera made no mistake about her opportunity and buried the first-time volley into the back of the net.
Against the University of La Verne, Duarte broke open a scoreless game by rocketing a firecracker into the top-left corner of the goal, marking her first-ever score in a Redlands uniform. Laursen and sophomore midfielder Devin Wright (Upland, CA) registered goals as the Maroon and Gray cruised to the comfortable 3-0 win.
One week later, Laursen solidified herself as one of the best players in the conference by playing a part in each of the Maroon and Gray's goals of the 3-1 victory over Whittier College. Subsequent to assisting on the first two scores, she finished out her fantastic performance when she buried her team-leading fourth goal of the season in the 87th minute.
A couple of tough losses over the next week left Redlands in a position of needing to string together a few consecutive wins. The team did just that, defeating the University of St. Thomas (MN), 1-0, and topping Chapman by the same score-line for the season sweep of the Panthers.
Despite being outshot by the Panthers, the Bulldogs took advantage of their limited opportunities when junior defender Megan Marks (Boise, ID) found the back of the net for the first time in her Redlands career. She was set up on a beautiful run by Laursen, who beat a Panther defender and then found Marks at the back post for the game-winner with just 15 minutes left in regulation. The goalkeeper combination of senior Linzey Smith(Anaheim Hills, CA) and junior Sabrina Grandke-Bawab (Kirkland, WA) provided solid contributions throughout the match, making the necessary saves and directing traffic in front of their goal with great success.
Heading into the home-stretch of the regular season, Redlands faced off with CMS on Breast Cancer Awareness Night. As tradition would have it, the Bulldogs donned their unique pink uniforms in support of the cause at Farquhar Field. Unfortunately, an early red card for Redlands forced the team to play a player down for the majority of the match. Nonetheless, the team ended up out-shooting the Athenas in the first half, 8-2. Holding strong defensively in the second stanza, the U of R forced the contest into overtime, but CMS scored the game-winner midway through the first extra period.
A stint of unfavorable results in conference action left the Bulldogs in need of a big showing on the final day of the regular season in addition to needing some help from other teams.
Redlands' offense came to life on Senior Day as the Bulldogs outshot the Whittier Poets, 33-7, and dominated all facets of the match en route to winning by a final score of 4-0. Junior midfielder Nicole Fox (Cheney, WA) paced the Redlands attack, scoring goals in the ninth and 11th minutes for an early two-goal advantage. Laursen laced a left-footed free kick into the top-left corner of the goal to make it 3-0 before Franklin added a fourth before the halftime break. That would be more than enough to secure the win as a number of players received playing time in the final regular-season game of the campaign.
Unfortunately, the victory was not sufficient in advancing the U of R into the SCIAC Postseason Tournament. Finishing tied for fourth place in the regular-season standings, the Bulldogs lost out on a tiebreaker to determine the fourth team in the tournament, ending the 2012 season in disappointing fashion.
Despite the early exit, a number of individuals garnered postseason accolades for their successes on and off the field. Laursen was tabbed SCIAC Newcomer of the Year, while Smith, Harrington and Pegan each earned Second-Team All-Conference honors.
Continuing to rake in the awards, Redlands also landed three players on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-West Region teams. Laursen headlined the trio, garnering Second Team honors, while both Harrington and Pegan collected Third-Team nods.
The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) honored the U of R with three selections to the Academic All-District Teams. King, Cartwright and Smith, each an integral part of the Bulldogs' successes in 2012, were all selected to the First Team. Moreover, due to her successes on the field and in the classroom, King was recognized as a CoSIDA Academic All-American Second-Team honoree.
With Soboti leading the way, the outlook for Bulldog women's soccer is promising. A strong core returns to the 2013 squad and looks to continue the program's success, as Redlands once again challenges for the SCIAC Championship with hopes of returning to the NCAA Championships.