Saying she’s watched the program “for years as a fan,” Sofia Melgoza, a goal-scoring player from Redlands East Valley High School, has committed to Cal State San Bernardino.
“More than just a program or a team,” Melgoza said. “It’s a family.”
Melgoza, who will graduate this spring from REV, was named second-team All-CIF as a freshman in 2018. The Lady Wildcats (11-8-3, 9-4-1) took fourth in a tough Citrus Belt League (CBL) chase.
One season later, she scored 14 goals and assisted once; REV (11-6-4, 7-0-3) captured the CBL title.
Last season, Melgoza did not appear on REV’s roster.
She is a Coast Soccer League Premier (CSL) product, coached by Ted Small, who led REV’s boys to CIF prominence with a Southern Section championship in 2016 and a runner-up finish one season later.
CSL has over 180 clubs with 2000 teams participating in various levels of skills, playing in matches throughout Southern California.
In landing Melgoza, Cal State is trying to rebuild its program after three straight losing seasons.
In 2016, Cal State finished 8-7-2, including a 7-3-2 mark in California Collegiate Athletic Association play — its last winning season.
Since then, the Lady Coyotes have compiled records of 6-9-2 (4-7-1), 5-12 (4-8) and 7-10-1 (5-7) while their season was canceled this past fall.
“This is one of the great schools in the conference,” said Melgoza, “and also has a great coaching staff.”
It will be the second season for interim coach Katie Rumfola, a four-year goalkeeper from California Baptist University. Mark Peters, a former coach who has rejoined as a Lady Coyote assistant, played his senior season at Cal State after three years at Azusa Pacific University.
Call them well-traveled veterans. A pair of former Cal State San Bernardino players, Ivan Johnson and Brandon Brown, are still on the circuit — at last look.
Their play came during years when the Coyotes were among the most dominant teams in CCAA play, certainly one of the top teams in NCAA Division 2 West Region.
Johnson played one season, 2006-07, helping lead the Coyotes to the NCAA Division 2 Final Four in Springfield, Mass.
Two years later, Brown helped lead the Coyotes to their eighth conference championship of the decade in his only season.
Johnson, a 6-foot-8 power forward that transferred from Oregon, eventually sprung from the NBA Development League before landing with Atlanta and Dallas, while playing in pro leagues in South Korea, Philippines, China, Spain and Mexico.
In his lone season in Coyote colors, he averaged 15.5 points and 4.7 rebounds, helping spark Cal State to victory over CCAA champion Humboldt State on the Lumberjacks’ home floor in the West Region finals.
His NBA resume includes playing for the Hawks from 2011 through 2013, averaging 6.4 points and four rebounds. One season later, he averaged 6.6 points and 3.9 rebounds in 69 games, helping Atlanta advance to the playoffs against Boston and Indiana.
One season later, he was cut by Dallas.
Brown, now 35, is a 6-7 power forward who left after his junior season to play pro ball in Lithuania. Eventually, Brown landed with teams on four continents and 17 countries.
Most recently, he played with Al-Ahli in the Bahrain Premier League.
A JUCO transfer from Holmes (Miss.) Community College, Brown topped the CCAA with 21.8 points a game and blocked shots (1.7), second with 9.7 rebounds.
An All-West Region selection, CCAA Newcomer of the Year, Brown was an All-American named by Basketball Times.
His best pro season might have come with Anyang Korea Ginseng Corporation of the South Korean Basketball League. Brown averaged 18.4 points, 9 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 42 games — All-KBL by Asiabasket.com.