2011 Summary: Bulldog Women’s Soccer Continues Consistent Success
The University of Redlands women's soccer program enjoyed yet another season full of victories, big-time goals, great saves and individual accolades. Redlands has been among the more consistent programs in NCAA Division III and this year was no different. The Maroon and Gray finished out the 2011 season with a 10-6-1 record, including a 7-5 mark in conference competition, and advanced to the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Postseason Tournament for the fifth straight time. Since Head Coach Suzette Soboti took over the helm in 1998, the squad has never fallen below .500 and has recorded 10 or more wins in 11 of her 13 seasons.
The Maroon and Gray kicked off the 2011 campaign with several exciting showdowns. In the season-opener at Farquhar Field, Redlands clobbered the visiting Lady Red of Carthage College (WI) by a score of 7-1, as five different Bulldogs scored at least one goal.
In what eventually became one of the team's biggest highlights of the season, the U of R took on then-No. 5 Emory University (GA) in an unfamiliar match-up with this national powerhouse. Redlands battled it out with the Eagles, going stride-for-stride through regulation and two overtime periods. With neither team able to find the back of the net after the 25th minute, the gamed ended in a 1-1 tie.
However, this early-season accomplishment served as an incredible motivation for the Bulldogs. Just four days later, senior forward Kaily Benenati (Denver, CO) provided some late-game heroics against Northwest Conference opponent Willamette University (OR). After the squads traded goals in regulation, she took advantage of opportunity and buried a game-winning score less than three minutes into overtime.
Although Redlands dropped its first two SCIAC games, the squad found its stride by going 5-1 in its next six games. During this six-game stretch, UR played extremely well, outscoring its opponents, 18-6. Senior forward Fionna Connolly (Salem, OR) wrote herself into the program's record books on Sept. 21 against Whittier College, when she tallied three goals and an assist for seven points. With this offensive outburst, she tied the Redlands marks for points and goals in a single game.
Amidst the club's successful roll, junior midfielder Meghan King (Portland, OR) sent a packed Farquhar Field crowd into a frenzy, when she slotted home a game-winning netter with only 28 seconds remaining in the game against Chapman University.
On Oct. 12, the women's team hosted its Third Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Night when it squared off with then-No. 8 Cal Lutheran University. Fans received a pink ribbon and the Bulldogs donned pink jerseys in honor of the continued fight against breast cancer. Although the UR fell to the Regals, the event was a memorable success.
Entering the final two weeks of regular-season play, Redlands needed to more or less win out for a chance at the SCIAC Postseason Tournament. Not surprisingly, Connolly stepped up her play and notched game-winning scores against Whittier College and rival Claremont-Mudd Scripps Colleges, keeping the Bulldogs' hopes alive.
In addition, the senior class, which featured Benenati, Connolly, forward Jaimie Morton (Boise, ID), midfielder Maddy Phillips (Seattle, WA) and defender Emily van den Bosch (Arcadia, CA), went out in grand style, as each player landed on the stat sheet in her final appearance at Farquhar Field. The graduating quintet registered 12 points on four goals and four assists, highlighted by van den Bosch's first career netter.
Advancing to the SCIAC Postseason Tournament for the fifth straight season, Redlands clinched the fourth and final spot with hopes of catching lightning in a bottle by repeating last year's exciting run. However, a second upset win over the top-seeded Regals of Cal Lutheran was not in the cards, as the Bulldogs exited the tournament with a 1-3 loss in the opening round.
Connolly and Phillips each earned a spot among the program's elite players by ranking among the top-10 in several categories. Connolly finished out her career with 74 points and became the top-scoring Bulldog in program history. She also sits tied for first with 16 assists and ranks second with 30 total goals.
For the second consecutive season, Redlands produced five All-SCIAC selections, headlined by First-Team honors for Connolly and junior midfielder Kendall Pegan (Lafayette, CA). In addition, Phillips, van den Bosch, and junior forward Samantha Rivera (Thousand Oaks, CA) landed on the Second Team.
In addition, Connolly capped off a stellar career by collecting the second NSCAA All-Region honor of her career with this year's Second-Team nod. In addition, Pegan landed on the Third Team for her inaugural NSCAA award.
Beyond the on-field honors, four Bulldogs received recognition from the College Sports Information Director of America (CoSIDA) for their academic excellence. Pegan, King, junior defender Maddy Cartwright (Salt Lake City, UT) and junior goalkeeper Linzey Smith (Anaheim Hills, CA) collected All-District awards.
Although the void left by the eminent graduation of its seniors is significant, the Redlands women's soccer teams looks forward to the continued growth and contributions of its up-and-comers and veteran standouts. The program's consistency for success provides inspiration for a bright future as the Bulldogs strive to return to the upper echelon of the conference and beyond.