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Redlands, Calif. – Senior Avery Raimondo volleyed in a cross from Voja Maric just 12:32 into the game, and it stood up the rest of the way as the second-seeded Pomona-Pitzer Men's Soccer team defeated top-seeded Redlands 1-0 on the road in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament Championship game on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, Pomona-Pitzer improves to 14-5-2 on the year and advances to the NCAA Division III Tournament next weekend at a site and time to be announced. Redlands slips to 13-9 overall on the year with the loss after winning the SCIAC Championship with an 11-5 regular season record in league play.
Maric and Raimondo almost connected for a goal a minute or two before the game's only goal, but given a second chance, the duo took advantage. Maric was able to drive a cross from the right side of the field towards the top of the six-yard box, where Raimondo was able to get to it first in a seam in the Redlands defense and volley it past Bulldogs goalie Josh Haskill.
The rest of the first half saw Redlands control possession, but the Sagehens defense held stout, as the Bulldogs managed only one shot in the first 45 minutes, a header from Charles Izydorek that was saved by senior goalie Nigel Brady. Pomona-Pitzer held an 8-1 edge in shots in the first stanza, with junior back Mark Raftrey challenging Haskill late in the half on a free kick from 25 yards, but Haskill was able to short-hop the knuckling strike from Raftrey and smother the rebound.
Redlands came out in the second half with a little more intensity and came inches away from the equalizer, as Chase Boone was able to get deep into the Sagehens penalty area, and send a low shot towards goal that was blocked. The deflection squirted past Brady, and made it all the way to the goal line, but senior midfielder Nathan Shekita tracked back and was barely able to clear the ball before it crossed, preserving the 1-0 lead in the 53rd minute.
Pomona-Pitzer's defense of senior center back Geordie Marriner, junior center back Mark Raftrey, junior outside back Paul Picciano, and the platoon of sophomores Colin Malaska and Chase Abelson then did the job the rest of the way, as Brady did not need to make a save in the second half. The best chance for the Bulldogs came from Tom Elsea got to a header near the back post after a long throw-in in the 83rd minute, but it carried over the crossbar and out of danger.
Nico Johnson put a shot well over the bar with 7:11 to go, but that was the last attempt for Redlands as Pomona-Pitzer was able to get the ball out of its own end down the stretch and kill out the clock. Raimondo, senior midfielders Arash Mahboubi and Drew Lind, sophomore midfielder Matthew Marvin and freshman midfielder Ethan Flor were vital in winning possession in the midfield down the stretch and keeping the ball out of Pomona-Pitzer's defensive end.
The Sagehens finished with a 12-7 edge in shots on the day, as they captured their first SCIAC Postseason Tournament title in program history. The postseason tournament format began in 2007, and Pomona-Pitzer had reached the finals one time previously, falling to Redlands 2-1 in overtime in 2008.
The NCAA Division III Men's Soccer selections will take place on Monday morning at 10:30 a.m., when the Sagehens will find out where they will travel for next weekend's opening round.