Bobcats slim defeat dashes chances at winning back to back titles

Saddleback heads the ball away from the opposing player Photo Credit | Cliff Robbins

The Saddleback Bobcats took on the Santiago Canyon Hawks on Nov. 9 at the Saddleback Stadium, losing 1-0, which closes out their chances at winning their second Orange Empire Conference Championship in school history. Saddleback won the Conference Championship last year for the first time in school history for the women’s soccer team. Saddleback’s strong offense was unable to keep up with Santiago Canyon’s defense. Santiago Canyon won the conference championship from 2014-2019. 

In the first half, Santiago had chances early on to get the first goal. Saddleback goaltender, Jamie Lynne-Clark, made some great saves, including one that came back out off the back post.

It was a close game throughout until the 41st minute when Santiago Canyon forward, Sheila Sanchez, poked the ball into the back of the net to take a 1-0 lead. Sanchez’s Goal was her fifth of the season. 

Saddleback’s defense played well despite giving up a goal late in the first half.  In the second half, the offense came out flying and started firing shots left and right. Multiple chances were on target, but nothing was going past the Santiago Canyon Keeper, Savanna Prado. 

Saddleback had many chances in the final 20 minutes of the game, yet couldn’t find a way to get it in the net to tie the game up, which resulted in a 1-0 for Santiago Canyon.

 Santiago Canyon’s win secured their first Orange Empire Conference Conference Championship since 2019. For the Bobcats, this is their first loss in Conference play as the team heads into their final two matches with a record of 9-1-2. Saddleback Captain and Defender, Alyssa Sims, discussed what head coach BJ McNicol said to the team at halftime. 

“He really emphasized on working hard and doing our best out on the field for the second half,” Sims said. “At halftime, it gave us a chance to reboot and to make changes to what was necessary, and we were able to talk about what changes we needed to make and play our best game for the last 45 minutes of the match.”

The final two games will be played at Golden West College and Irvine Valley College.