Led by Head Coach Suzette Soboti and Assistant Coach Sam Keary, the University of Redlands women's lacrosse team finished the 2018 season with a 7-10 overall record and a 3-7 mark for fifth place in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) action. While battling against top competitors, the Bulldogs gained multiple individual accolades, broke multiple records, and celebrated a talented crew of seniors in a rollercoaster campaign.
The Bulldogs enjoyed a solid start to the season, amassing a 2-1 record over their first three games. After a season-opening loss to Occidental College, the squad rebounded with back-to-back wins against conference opponents Whittier College and Chapman University. In the 16-5 triumph over the Poets, Morford recorded her second goal of the game with 23:03 remaining in the first half, which ignited a 9-0 Bulldog run. The Poets finally answered with a goal in the final minute of the half, but Redlands went into the break with an 11-2 advantage. Redlands continued to put the pressure on Whittier while holding the Poets to just three goals in the second frame. Senior midfielder Lacey Bjorndal (Sherwood, OR) fired off a game-high six goals, to go along with four ground balls and five draw controls. Junior midfielder Hanna Morford (West Linn, OR) provided three goals, two assists, two ground balls, and a game-leading seven draw controls.
The Bulldogs continued their momentum into the following game by winning a 10-9, double-overtime thriller to break a nine-game losing streak against Chapman that dated back to 2014. Two first-half goals from Morford helped propel the Maroon and Gray to a 4-2 halftime lead. Although the Panthers knotted the game at four-all with back-to-back goals to start the second frame, the Bulldogs built a 9-7 advantage on another goal from Morford with 7:08 remaining. The Maroon and Gray held the Panthers at bay until two late goals forced the contest into the first scoreless overtime. At the 1:45-mark with the game on the line and a free-position attempt in her grasp, Bjorndal seized the moment and found the back of the net with the go-ahead goal to take down Chapman, 10-9.
After a three-game skid, Redlands found success against non-conference opponent, Albion College (MI), in a 9-6 victory. The Bulldogs faced a 4-3 deficit heading into the half but rallied back with a six-goal effort to cement the victory. Bjorndal once again led the Maroon and Gray with four goals, six ground balls, and seven draw controls. She also served as a defensive force by tallying four caused turnovers. In net, senior goalkeeper Quinn Egan (Greenwood Village, CO) played a large role in keeping the Britons at bay with 11 stops.
Redlands stayed hot against out-of-conference opponents by securing a pair of wins over Augsburg University (MN) and Sewanee (TN). In the 18-2 throttling of Augsburg, sophomore midfielder Sadie Pickering (Tacoma, WA) put together her strongest game of the season with a career-high six goals. The young players had their time to shine as well, with first-years Breanna Gunderson (San Diego, CA), Amanda Levandowski (San Diego, CA), and Kaley Holland (Seattle, WA) each registering a pair of goals. In addition, sophomore attacker Charly Walter (Bethesda, MD) registered one goal and one assist.
For ALS Awareness Night against Sewanee, a career-high seven goals from Bjorndal carried the Bulldogs to an 11-7 victory. Bjorndal completed an early hat trick with three consecutive goals in a seven-minute span in the first half. Although the Tigers battled back from a 3-9 deficit to move within three, Bjorndal shut the door with a score at the 5:34-mark to capture the Maroon and Gray's win. In addition to her seven goals, Bjorndal helped the Bulldogs to a 13-7 draw-control advantage with seven of her own. Defensively, junior Alexis Pound (Washington, DC) showed great tenacity with five caused turnovers and six ground balls.
After a road loss to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges, Redlands returned home for a 16-3 routing of DePauw University (IN). The Bulldogs' defense came to play, limiting the Tigers to just 11 shots in the game and forcing 24 turnovers. Redlands dominated the draw-control battle with a 16-5 margin while also edging out the Tigers in ground balls with a 20-16 advantage. In the contest, the Bulldogs led 6-1 at the break and never looked back. The Maroon and Gray scored nine unanswered points in the second frame to cruise to the win. Pickering continued to impress by pacing the game with six goals, to go along with four ground balls and four caused turnovers. Bjorndal recorded a goal in each half and led the game in draw controls once again with 11, which brought her single-season total to a school-record 96. She finished the season with a sizable hold on the standard at 124.
The squad traveled to Chapman, where they lost a tough, 5-10 battle but bounced back to start the month of April with a dominant 20-2 conquest over Whittier. The Bulldogs' defense once again played a major role in the victory as it forced 22 turnovers and limited the Poets to just 12 shots. Egan had three caused turnovers, while Morford, Ruhl, senior Katie Koehler (Jackson, WY), and first-year Isabella Leonardi (Napa, CA) each had two. Morford led all scorers with five goals to go along with a pair of ground balls and four draw controls. Senior midfielder Jacquelyn Archey (Sammamish, WA) scored her first and second career-goals in the victory.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs suffered three tough losses to conclude the season and sat on the outside of the SCIAC Postseason Tournament as the fifth-place team in the conference standings. Among the bright spots of these defeats, junior attacker Adi Fellows (Albuquerque, NM) uncorked two goals on three shots against Occidental for one of her biggest offensive showings of the season. In addition, first-year attacker Paige Erlanger (Las Vegas, NV) stepped up with two assists and a hat trick in the season finale against Pomona-Pitzer.
For the year, Bjorndal led the team with 41 goals, while Morford ranked first on the team in points with 50 on 40 goals and 10 assists. Leading the squad in assists, Ruhl dished out 27 in a fine showing. Egan held down the net throughout the season as she started in 16 games and played 921:54 minutes. She made 146 stops for a 47.2 save percentage.
Statistically, the Bulldogs fared well amongst the SCIAC's best. A First-Team selection, Bjorndal paced the conference in draw controls with 124, which was 40 more than any other player. She also led the SCIAC in free-position goals and attempts with a 25-41 clip, while Pickering finished second overall with a 17-31 mark. Placing fourth in the assist category was Ruhl, who finished the season with 27, just two away from a spot in the top three. She joined Egan and sophomore defender Chelsea Sahami (Millbrae, CA) on the All-SCIAC Second Team. Egan sat third in the conference in save percentage, while Sahami consistently provided quality pressure against the opponents en route to earning 15 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers.
While continuing her incredible scoring streak, Morford also collected a First-Team nod from the SCIAC. She has scored in at least one goal in 47 consecutive games played, dating back to February 20, 2016. She finished the campaign with a solid, shots-on-goal percentage of 83.3.
Furthermore, Bjorndal garnered First-Team All-West Region honors from the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Association (IWLCA), while Egan and Sahami represented the Maroon and Gray on the Second Team.
The IWLCA also awarded Redlands with a pair of academic nods, with the team garnering Honor Squad status and Fellows representing the Bulldogs among the elite Honor Roll.
After falling below .500 for the first time since 2009, the Redlands women's lacrosse team strives to return to its winning tradition next season and beyond. Although the loss of its decorated seniors will be difficult, the Bulldogs look forward to the program's next phase of success with the return of a talented core of contributors.