In an all-around effort, the University of Redlands women's soccer team came up with its fifth shutout of the season by securing a 2-0 victory over Chapman University in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) action under the shining lights of Farquhar Field on Wednesday evening.
The Bulldogs came out aggressive and nearly converted a quick goal in the 12th minute when sophomore midfielder Eva Vlassopoulos (Portland, OR) sent a through-ball to classmate midfielder Emily Falla (Woodinville, WA) in space for a one-on-one against the goalkeeper. After several dribbles, Falla took her shot but it missed wide left. On the counterattack, the Panthers fired off a dangerous cross towards the box, but sophomore defender Abby Nordquist (Gig Harbor, WA) made a diving block to knock the ball off course.
On the other end, the Maroon and Gray continued to lay down quality shots on the Panthers' goalkeeper. The persistence came to fruition when senior forward Hayley Romo (Port Orchard, WA) settled the ball in the box and launched her first shot that was blocked by a nearby defender. Fortunately, the ball immediately fell back onto the foot of Romo, who sent a blast to the back of the net for the go-ahead goal.
In an effort to increase the lead, the Bulldogs kept up the offensive pressure by creating chances in the box. The strongest attempt came from Vlassopoulos midway through the half that forced the Panthers to make a tough save.
Nonetheless, Chapman became progressively more aggressive throughout the half and uncorked five consecutive shots, but the Bulldogs held strong. By halftime, Redlands owned a slight 9-8 shot advantage.
The Maroon and Gray handled the Panthers' attacks with poise and halted any efforts to score with stingy defense and strong play in goal from junior goalkeeper Brittany Dinkins (Renton, WA). She gained great support from Nordquist, first-year Rilee Mezenen (Holladay City, UT), senior Louisa Alstot (Portland, OR), and first-year Logan Swim (Issaquah, WA). This crew, along with others, forced Chapman to take deep shots, allowing Dinkins to swallow them up and preserve the Bulldogs' 1-0 lead at the break.
During the second half, first-year goalkeeper Natalie Hubacz (Grassvalley, CA) stepped in between the posts and immediately made an impact with a pair of challenging saves. She absorbed two powerful blasts from Chapman within the first three minutes of action to keep the shutout alive. Despite being tested by a barrage of shots, she did her part to maintain a clean sheet for the Bulldogs.
After a Panther shot hit the crossbar, the Bulldogs went on the counterattack, with senior forward Madison Mills (San Ramon, CA) feeding the ball to Vlassopoulos on the left wing. Vlassopoulos flew down the flank to beat her defender and connect on a high-velocity shot to the far post for the Maroon and Gray's insurance goal with less than 20 minutes remaining in the match.
The defense once again stepped up and enjoyed a huge second half with multiple stops, including Nordquist on another diving block to halt a cross attempt in front of the net. In addition, Hubacz made the necessary plays to keep the Panthers off the board for Redlands' 2-0 shutout victory.
Dinkins and Hubacz combined for 10 saves, with Dinkins earning the win with four and Hubacz stepping in to finish the job with six.
Redlands (7-4-1, 6-2-1) takes to the road for a pair of SCIAC contests, starting with Occidental College on Saturday, October 13, at 7 p.m. and followed by Caltech on Wednesday, October 17, at 4 p.m.