After losing a decorated class of seniors a year before, the University of Redlands men's soccer team maintained its high expectations for success during the 2018 season. With persistence and skill, the Bulldogs earned a 13-5-0 overall record and an 11-3-0 mark in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Action (SCIAC) action. After a four-year reign as conference champions, the team's second-place result provides great motivation for attacking the immediate future.
Following a 1-2 loss to Vanguard University in their season opener, the Bulldogs jumped into SCIAC action with an exciting 1-0 victory over Chapman University in front of the fans at Farquhar Field. Senior midfielder Arman Mogharei (Hayward, CA) provided the late-game heroics with his first goal of the season, which developed after an impressive buildup from Redlands' defensive third.
The next day, the Maroon and Gray played host to non-conference opponent, Pacific Lutheran University (WA), and secured a 2-1 win over the in-region foes. Junior forward Antony Chonga (San Diego, CA) initiated the scoring with a successful penalty kick in the 49th minute before assisting senior forward Kayvon Parsa (West Hills, CA) on his first game-winner of the season.
The Bulldogs passed their first road test against conference opponents by coming home with a pair of wins. At Occidental College, Parsa tallied both goals to lift his team to a 2-1 victory over the Tigers. Senior defender Nick DeQuiroz (Indio, CA) and junior defender Dylan Carlyle (San Jose, CA) each notched an assist. Two days later, Redlands faced Caltech in a rare Friday showdown but embraced the opportunity with an offensive outburst that included four goals by four different players. First, sophomore midfielder Collin ChubbFertal (Eugene, OR) found the back of the net off of a double assist from Chonga and DeQuiroz. About three minutes later, first-year forward Steve Acuña (Pico Rivera, CA) registered a one-touch goal for the Bulldogs' 2-0 lead. Within three minutes of each other once again, sophomore midfielders Antonio Chavez (Santa Ana, CA) and Derrin Valeri (Atlanta, GA) each scored to put the Beavers away before the end of the first half. On the other end of the field, Redlands' defense held Caltech to just three shots in the contest.
The Bulldogs stretched their first win streak to five by topping the University of La Verne in a solid 3-0 victory for a sweet return to Farquhar Field on September 19. The Maroon and Gray attack included the dynamic play of its backline, as Dequiroz and senior defender Joey Kenney (Portland, OR) each scored their first goals of the season in the collective hat trick.
Redlands hit a slight bump in the road by dropping two in a row. Despite out-shooting then-undefeated Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges, the Bulldogs struggled to find the back of the net in a one-goal loss. The Maroon and Gray temporarily lost focus in a road defeat to Pomona-Pitzer Colleges but found its way back in a hard-fought, double-overtime victory at Cal Lutheran University. After nearly 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, Redlands gained the game-winning goal on a short-field counterattack with 42 seconds to go. The play began with a throw-in by DeQuiroz to first-year midfielder Avery Jacobson (Seattle, WA), who turned and launched it across the box to the far post. Parsa made an excellent play to get a foot on the ball and use a tough angle to tap it in for the golden-goal finish.
The win was just what the Bulldogs needed, as it sparked a seven-game winning streak that extended through October 20. In the midst of the streak, Parsa caught fire with two particularly strong games. In a 2-1 victory over Whittier College, he provided both goals in an impressive comeback effort. He followed that performance with the second hat trick of his career in a 3-0 non-conference win at home against UC Santa Cruz.
In addition, Redlands gained more fireworks from Mogharei, who uncorked his second game-winner of the season against the Panthers in a 1-0 double-overtime victory. Defensively, the Bulldogs benefitted from huge stops by sophomore goalkeeper Matteo DeFina (Livermore, CA), who received great support from DeQuiroz, Kenney, Carlyle, and senior defender Spencer Scott (Portland, OR).
The Bulldogs kept things rolling in a thrilling 4-3 shootout against Occidental College. By the 25th minute, the scoreboard showed four goals between the two teams. For Redlands, ChubbFertal and Mogharei provided the first-half answers to counter the Tigers' offense. The high-scoring display continued in the second, with Mogharei and Chonga stepping up for the Maroon and Gray. All four of the goals came off assists, with Jacobson, Valeri, DeQuiroz, and Carlyle providing their playmaking skills.
After using a second-half surge to defeat Caltech at home, Redlands traveled to La Verne and secured a 2-1 overtime win against the Leopards. First-year defender Peyton Menti (Seattle, WA) converted the first goal of his young career in the 98th minute to cap off the Bulldogs' seven-game streak.
After relinquishing a late goal in a road loss to CMS, the Bulldogs captured the No. 2-seed in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament by topping Cal Lutheran University in a 2-1 overtime decision on Senior Day. ChubbFertal knocked in the game-winner off of a rebound from Parsa's shot to conclude the regular season on a high note. In addition, junior goalkeeper Noah Natividad (San Diego, CA) provided six stops in nearly 94 minutes of the must-win contest.
Since 2007, Redlands has competed in all but one conference postseason tournament, with this year being no exception. However, the Bulldogs fell to the No. 3-seeded Occidental Tigers in an emotionally-charged match that highlighted the teams' passion and physical presence. Junior Emilio Raby-Newsom (Chicago, IL) got the unexpected call to step into the game midway through the second half and made two huge saves for the Bulldogs. But, the Tigers broke through in the 78th minute, which forced the Maroon and Gray to up the ante on their pressure in Oxy's box. Offensively, Redlands had its chances but could not convert before the final whistle in a heartbreaking result.
Among the individual highlights of the campaign, Parsa turned in the strongest season of his four-year career with 12 goals and two assists. His 26 points landed him second in the SCIAC and earned him a spot on the All-SCIAC First Team for the second time in his career. After his stellar season, he became the only player in the conference and the second Bulldog in two years to garner United Soccer Coaches All-America recognition as a Third-Team member.
Parsa also joined Mogaheri among the United Soccer Coaches All-West Region First-Team honorees. Furthermore, Kenney, Mogharei, DeQuiroz, and Chonga each garnered All-SCIAC honors.
Despite the team's obvious success, Redlands holds great motivation for a return to the top of the conference and another opportunity at the NCAA tournament. With the imminent void left behind by the graduating class, the Bulldogs look to fill the gaps for another strong run in the 2019 campaign. Nonetheless, the expectations remain elevated for this high-caliber program, including the talented core of returnees, who must step up to the challenge for future success.