Saddlebacks freshman forward Emilee Monnig (No.4, red) breaks toward Cypress to surge the offense. (Dominic Ebel/Lariat)
A late start by nationally ranked No.17 Saddleback College was a good one. The Gauchos women’s soccer team triumphed over Cypress College in a comeback win. Being down 2-0 after the first half, Saddleback got three goals to finish on top.
“Thrilling game to see how Saddleback handled the pressure,” Saddleback women’s basketball player and fan Hannah Saliba said. “They were down by 2 scores against state caliber Cypress, they kept their poise and stayed undefeated at home.”
The defense looked bad for Saddleback in the first half, as they let Cypress run by them on their first score by sophomore forward Karla Lopez, which was a right wing strike. The Gauchos freshman midfielder Rachel Edelstein was hustling to cut off many advances Cypress’ offense mustered up.
“We didn’t change much for Cypress, our system is good,” head coach BJ McNicol said. “When we played them up there, we played them good.”
Cypress was winning the 50-50 balls as their head coach, Erick Hurtarte, was pretty vocal to his players in getting them competing strong. Saddleback was getting beat clearly in possession and field position.
“Our coaches like to play good cop, bad cop,” freshman midfielder Jordan Carrillo said. “Assistant coach Sean Melendez is negative to us, as McNicol is positive to us.”
Cypress got an easy score off a rebound shot by freshman midfielder Gissel Avila for the second score. Being down by two, Saddleback freshman forward Hele Holidge got an open look at goal when she went down.
“There are more fouls played on our smaller stadium field than the larger Cypress field,” McNicol said. “We needed a spark, so once Cypress fouled Holidge, it gave us a spark.”
The referee talked to Hurtarte on his side after Holidge went down. Saddleback’s sophomore midfielder and captain Danielle Scelsi then got a header to get their first goal.
“We started to get opportunities on their goal,” McNicol said. “Freshman forward Breanna Taboada knocked in the second goal off the left wing.”
The Gauchos were attacking with shots at the Cypress goal at the 74-minute mark, just missing to score. Cypress lost all the momentum in the soccer battle.
“I was talking on the east field, talking to some football coaches hearing the fans screaming,” Saddleback athletic director Tony Lipold said. “I went back to see what it was all about, to see we tied it up 2-2 score.”
The Cypress standout freshman defensive player Citaly Gomez had been battling Saddleback’s most valuable player, freshman forward Emilee Moning, keeping her in check all game.
“Props to Gomez for staying on me that long, but I got the ball to the back of the net,” Monnig said. “Cypress was a good team that pushed us to be better.”
Saddleback freshman keeper Angelica Ramos bounced back after giving up two goals in the first half. The defense, lead by Edelstein, started to connect passes to get them out of the trouble and Cypress’ pressure.
“We came out hard after the 45-minute mark, we really started to fight back,” Ramos said. “Our offense came around and bailed us out for the win.”
Saddleback’s next game is at Fullerton College at 3 p.m., Oct. 23.