UR 3-1 OXY
UR: 50’ Zaccagnio OXY: 6’ Lawson
“SCIAC Champions” is a phrase that the men’s soccer team has heard a lot of in these last two years. But in this past week, a term that hadn’t applied to this program in a while was suddenly relevant: Nationally ranked. The Bulldogs came into the first game of the SCIAC postseason tournament ranked 25th amongst Division III colleges.
Their opponent, the Occidental Tigers, came into the match looking to knock out the top seed and show that they were the squad worthy of national honors. After some frantic and out-of-character play in the first half, the Bulldogs went into halftime stunned, trailing the Tigers 1-0. But a trio of wonderful goals in the second half sparked Redlands to a 3-1 win and reserved a spot in the SCIAC Championship Match.
The Bulldogs got an early wake up call, as the Tigers got on the board rapidly, scoring a goal by Daniel Lawson on just their second shot of the game. The aggressiveness Oxy displayed came as a surprise to many, as they limited the strong Redlands’ offense to just five shots in the first half. Head coach Ralph Perez was aware of what the team needed to do going into the second half. “[The] defense and goalkeeping just was not there,” he said. “Everyone needed to step up.”
The Bulldogs came out in the second half with their work cut out for them, and they were able to deliver in front of the riled up and energetic home crowd. Junior midfielder Colin Zaccagnio was able to score the equalizer in the 50th minute, a strong header off a ball thrown in by fellow midfielder Casey ChubbFertal, a sophomore.
The tie was broken just thirteen minutes later, as junior forward Matt Speegle was able to capitalize on a mistake by the Tigers’ defense to make it 2-1, just three minutes after he entered the game. Speegle was able to take control of the ball after Occidental was not able to clear it out of their defensive area. The play that led to this goal was also started by a ChubbFertal throw in, though he was not officially credited with an assist for his efforts.
Staying on pace, the Bulldogs were able to score their third goal of the game, this one once again being thirteen minutes after the last. During a scrum to receive the ball on a corner kick, the ensuing contact resulted in sophomore forward Chase Boone being thrown on his back, and Redlands was awarded a penalty kick. The final blow was delivered by freshman forward Kayvon Parsa, as he was the one chosen to take the shot to put the Bulldogs up by two.
The fans could not contain their excitement as the clock winded down, and Farquhar Field roared when the final whistle blew, sealing the victory for the Bulldogs, and ensuring that they will be playing one more game on the year on Saturday night. They will be taking on the Leopards of the University of La Verne; they are the only team to have bested Redlands dating back to the 19th of September. Though La Verne has proved to be a thorn in their side in the past, Perez believes that the team “will be okay if we take them out of their game plan… [La Verne] is best at playing their style of play.”
With a win on Saturday, the men will earn the right to participate in the NCAA national tournament. The critical matchup will be played on the Bulldogs’ home turf, as they face off at 7:00 PM at Farquhar Field.
[Image courtesy of Sky Ung, Redlands Bulldog photographer]