Saddleback College women’s soccer team battles second nationally ranked Santiago Canyon to a tie in Orange Empire Conference

No.6 Emily Winkelmann, defense, sophomore, jumps to block goal attempt. (Photographer/Anibal Santos)

No.6 Emily Winkelmann, defense, sophomore, jumps to block goal attempt. (Photographer/Anibal Santos)

Saddleback College women’s soccer team took on Santiago Canyon College on Tuesday. Santiago was ranked second in the nation and first in the Orange Empire Conference going into the game. The final score of the game was 0-0 between the Gauchos and Santiago Canyon.

“To our credit, I think the girls worked very hard to create chances that we had worked on during practice,” said head coach BJ McNicol. “I think we did everything right except get that one goal that we needed.”

Saddleback’s freshman, midfielder, Devin Scelsi and sophomore, forward and captain, Danyelle Allen had some great chances under pressure to score on goal. Devin’s twin sister freshman, forward, Danielle Scelsi played really well,  returning to play after being off from injury since the Cypress game.

No.6 Emily Winkelmann, defense, sophomore, jumps to block goal attempt. (Photographer/Anibal Santos)

No.6 Emily Winkelmann, defense, sophomore, hits ball away from Santiago Canyon’s No. 10, Andrea Najera while her teammate No. 5 Cassidy Celani, defense, freshman, assists. (Photographer/Anibal Santos)

“It was a real tough game. Before the game we tried to come out strong, defend and attack right and stay focused on the game,” Danielle Scelsi said.” We did the best we could. They are a real good team and we are going to have a strong season.”

The Saddleback defense collectively was amazing as they were making plays shutting down SCC’s powerful offense the whole game.  Talented freshman, halfback, Julianna Caldwell anchored the defense shutting down any break-away attacks SCC produced in this game.

“We didn’t have to do a lot of pumping up.  The girls were up for this game,” Caldwell said. “I thought we played actually better than SCC.  We could play any team possible as I’m proud of my team.”

Saddleback  really played hard, collectively making plays as a team.  Sophomore, midfielder, captain, Krista Flores directed some great play on the field. Saddleback  sophomore, halfback, Emily Winkelman, and freshman, forward, midfielder, Faith Ezelle stepped up their game.

“We played great today. It was a close one for sure,” Flores said. “I think everyone did their part. Anyone could have won this game it was that close.”

Saddleback was making every opportunity a positive whether it was a throw in or a corner kick,  it was being executed.

The team created at least seven break-aways to goal for the Saddleback strikers’ chance to score under pressure, just missing goals.

No.5 Cassidy Celani, defense, freshman, guides the ball away from her team's goal. (Photographer/Anibal Santos)

No.7 Danielle Scelsi, midfield, freshman, prepares to stand defense against Santiago Canyon’s Rosario Gonzales. (Photographer/Anibal Santos)

“I think we played really well today as a team. We did really well.  Our passing was really great and we cleared the ball out whenever it needed to be cleared out,” said sophomore, forward, Kathryn Kazzi. “Everyone was backing each other up.”

SCC had its moments to score putting a lot of pressure on sophomore, keeper,  Alexandria Scott. The talented Scott was coming off the one 30-foot-goal shot Irvine Valley College  made last week.

“I had about ten saves.  I really wanted to set a point to SCC,” Scott said. “I thought we were further in the game then SCC produced.”

The Gauchos are in fourth place in the OEC, with a record of 3-3-3 OEC/7-3-3

“The first time around we lost 1-0 at their place,” McNicol said. “So I’m hoping our home undefeated stays alive.”