Saddleback freshman keeper Angelica Ramos (Neon jersey) gets no help from her teammates marking up sophomore defenseman Raena Ramirez (No. 11, white). (Dominic Ebel/Lariat)
On Oct. 27 the National Soccer Coaches Association of America had Saddleback College ranked at No. 17, before running into a prepared Golden West College. The Rustlers, being the underdog, gave too much pressure to Saddleback’s key players costing them to scramble their game.
“The Saddleback players started to relax after our first goal, which was a mistake,” freshman midfielder Jordan Carrillo said. “We didn’t fight back as we depended on the referee to make the calls, as he wasn’t constant, so we took the impact of their physical play.”
Golden West already beat Saddleback once, so they were confident that they could win another, but came up short settling for a tie. Saddleback never could figure out how to get the ball to their key player, freshman forward Emilee Monnig, for her to score against a well defended Rustlers scheme limited there offensive threat.
“They defended well as it was tough to break free to get our offensive scores,” Monnig said. “When we did get our opportunities we just missed putting the ball in the goal.”
Saddleback had some breakaways that their shots went wide of the goal early on in the contest. Their first goal came on an assist from Monnig to sophomore midfielder and co-captain Danielle Scelsi, who struck it to the back of the net.
“We did a zone and player mark up on Monnig because we knew she was their go-to player on offense,” Golden West head coach Raul Ruiz said. “When she was open, we played player to player, then when she pushed up we played zone keeping her in check the entire game.”
Once Saddleback made one or two good passes their luck was not enough to break through Golden West’s scheme on the Gauchos key players. The winds were blowing and Saddleback’s air passes were straight into the Rustlers defense, as their was no sign of the Gauchos players adjusting their kicks to sending the ball further down the field.
“The winds made it for a different game, but I can’t use it as an excuse,” Gauchos head coach BJ McNicol said. “I thought our forwards were good enough to score more.”
The Rustlers offense brought themselves in numbers to put pressure on the Gauchos defensive key player freshman midfielder Rachel Edelstein to limit her effectiveness in the game. Golden West keyed on Edelstein, as they boxed her in every time she received the ball, cutting her off to create the attack on offense.
“We knew about Edelstein, how good she is, so when we get her in space we tried to get her going back to reduce her effectiveness in the game,” Ruiz said. “We kept a line on her at the top to double team her to force her game being more direct.”
In this game Saddleback was on the receiving end of the Golden West aggressiveness in play. It was the Gauchos players getting knocked to the ground several times in play.
“I hoped we would surge to win,” Carrillo said. “We were taken out of our game by Golden West as they stopped us.”
It was a routine direct free kick 25 yards by Golden West freshman midfielder Daisy Gallegos that got through the Gauchos player wall at the 50-minute mark to tie it up 1-1. Then, at the 87-minute mark, a corner kick by sophomore defenseman Nicole Griffin to Raena Ramirez, resulted in a header that gave the Rustlers the 2-1 lead.
“We didn’t defend well as the same thing happened last time we played them,” McNicol said. “We had to come back this time as things got real crazy.”
At the 89-minute mark Saddleback got a penalty kick. Breanna Taboada missed one earlier, hitting the crossbar, so this one she nailed for the tie at 2-2. The Gauchos defense had a tough time connecting to the offensive players to get them the ball free in space.
“The key was to get Edelstein out of her game as the other Gauchos were predictable,” Ruiz said. “Edelstein is an exceptional player who has great vision and knows how to play out of the back.”
When Edelstein was knocked down in the game she left the game and was replaced by sophomore defenseman and co-captain Brittany Bartle, who could not rally her team once they had a 1-0 lead in the game.
“We were more mentally prepared than Saddleback as their team is well coached in tactical game,” Ruiz said. “Saddleback brings a lot of set plays that we knew about, so our focus was the aspects of the game.”
Saddleback players were getting bumped off the ball by Golden West’s tough style of play, as sophomore midfielder Brittany Stevens’ passes were off target at times. The Gauchos sophomore forward Amber Martin also had problems executioning goal shots against the more aggressive Rustlers.
“They’re a good, physical team,” McNicol said. “I thought we did enough to win it, props to them for giving it to us on our home field.”
There were too many missed opportunities by Saddleback also, as Edelstein was brought to the forward position. She was all alone when she received a cross pass from the left wing, where another Gauchos player moved in position at the same time and they ended up knocking the header wide of the goal.
“We could be dangerous when we move Edelstein up at forward,” McNicol said. “We play Santa Ana up their on the larger turf field on Friday, Nov. 6th, so hopefully our players will get mentally prepared to play this time.”
Saddleback will take on Santa Ana College at 3:00pm.