The No. 25 University of Redlands men's soccer team's incredible run through the NCAA Division III Championships came to a heartbreaking end on Sunday afternoon in Chicago. After holding a 2-0 lead, the Bulldogs suffered a 2-3 overtime loss to the eighth-ranked University of St. Thomas (MN) Tommies in the NCAA quarterfinals, capping off an impressive run through the postseason that began nearly three weeks ago.
Redlands drew first blood on a beautiful cross by junior forward Chase Boone (Beaverton, OR) that found sophomore midfielder Arman Mogharei (Hayward, CA) on a diving header past the Tommie goalkeeper in the eighth minute of today's game for the first goal of his career.
However, St. Thomas came right back to fire off three-straight shots, including one that forced Bulldog junior goalkeeper Josh Haskill (Lakewood, CA) to make a save.
With a new sense of energy and determination, the Bulldogs continued to press, ultimately controlling the pace of play and possession throughout the latter part of the first half.
Although the Tommies created multiple chances, the Redlands defensive unit of junior Keoni Yates (Kailua-Kona, HI), junior Casey ChubbFertal (Eugene, OR), sophomore Spencer Scott (Portland, OR), and junior Ben Thompson (Spokane, WA) provided quality support for Haskill to keep them off the board.
In the 60th minute, the Bulldogs extended their lead with a beautiful combination play between junior forward Alexander Knox (Seattle, WA) and Mogharei just inside the arc near the top of the box. After Knox passed the ball to Mogharei, he fed it right back to him, creating just enough space for Knox to rocket a shot into the back of the net for Redlands' 2-0 advantage.
With less than 30 minutes left in the second half, the Bulldogs saw the Tommies step up their intensity with a more offensive mindset. Less than 10 minutes later, their efforts paid off when they converted a set-piece goal off of perfectly-placed free kick.
Unfortunately for the Maroon and Gray, UST maintained this momentum with consistent pressure in Redlands' defensive third. During a scramble play just off-center of the goal, the Tommies took advantage of an empty net and blasted off a shot that was blocked with an inadvertent handball, resulting in an automatic red card. UST converted the ensuing penalty kick to tie the score at two apiece.
Playing a man down, the Bulldogs battled to score the breakthrough, as Boone found space on the edge of the box and took a shot that bounced off the crossbar. With the score still knotted, the game headed into golden-goal overtime.
Redlands refused to go away in the extra period, earning an early corner kick that set the table for the ultimate finish but to no avail. Boone fired off another shot in the 94th minute but it flew just wide left.
Finally, the Tommies completed the comeback with a breakaway goal in the 97th minute, thus ending Redlands' historic run through the postseason.
This was the Bulldogs' third time in the NCAA quarterfinals and the first since 2007.
Redlands closes out its impressive campaign with an overall record of 18-6-1 that included the program's third-consecutive Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) regular-season championship and back-to-back postseason tournament titles.