Saddleback College stadium Lariat | Ryan Murphy
Saddleback College announced it will be adding a men’s soccer team in the fall of 2023, according to an article on the Saddleback Bobcats website.
This news came after Saddleback’s women’s soccer team was the top team in the nation last semester.
“We had the pinnacle of seasons by winning our first regional championship, our first state championship and finishing nationally ranked number one,” said BJ McNicol, head coach of the women’s team and upcoming men’s team. “We were also named National Staff-of-the-Year and we also had the National Player-of-the-Year.”
These achievements opened the door for the addition of a men’s team, according to McNicol.
The addition of the men’s team was not in violation of Title IX rules prohibiting sex discrimination, as Saddleback offers every women’s sport except one or two, according to McNicol.
Another factor in the decision to create a new team was the success of the new stadium, which opened up in the midst of pandemic restrictions. The 65 million dollar stadium offers a better game day experience than most division one programs, McNicol said.
The new stadium has even motivated the players to play better games, said McNicol. Additionally, the impressive facilities are now a selling point for new recruits of the men’s team.
“It’s really nice for a community college,” said Tyler Petersen, who plays in the striker position. “And it makes me realize what a great opportunity this is.”
The new team is currently in the process of being built. Some student-athletes have already been selected, including current Saddleback students and students transferring from other colleges, McNicol said.
The main focus now is on the high school season, which is currently going on, and the club season after that, according to McNicol. A majority of the team will be selected from those players following this season.
Some of the first players of the men’s soccer team met with McNicoll recently and are already ready to get playing this fall.
“I felt like the opportunity here at Saddleback will be really good,” said Ivan Hernandez, a goalkeeper who transferred to Saddleback from Fullerton College. “Especially like since it’s closer to my house. I’d be waking up at like 4:30 in the morning to be going to Fullerton.”
“I’m just excited to be here and I’m ready to play,” said Spencer Simis, who plays center defensive mid and midfield.
The Saddleback athletics department plans to finish setting up the men’s soccer team in the coming months to be prepared for the upcoming fall season.