Head Coach BJ McNicol (left), Forward Samantha Villasenor, Goalie Olivia Wynn, Defender Alyssa Sims Justin Ganz | Lariat
The Saddleback women’s soccer team is doing tremendous this season, as they head into playoffs.
The team made the playoffs the last seven out of eight seasons, including the college’s first Orange Empire Conference Championship. Coach McNicol has been the coach for the Bobcats since 2012 and discussed the team’s success.
“I think we just got a great group of kids,” McNicol said. “We’ve gotten a lot of young women that come in here with a great mindset who want to get better, and they want to be team players. We are very blessed in our area to have a lot of great soccer programs there at the club level or high school level. We like to bring them in and build a great team and we like to hype them up into a really fun experience.”
The team won the Nike Azteca Challenge Cup at the start of the season. The Nike Azteca Challenge Cup is a pre-season tournament played every year at Mount San Antonio College. The team is looking to win its first state championship after winning its first conference championship last season.
Saddleback’s final home games are on Tuesday’s and Friday’s as they will take on Orange Coast College on Friday Oct. 21, Santa Ana College on Friday Oct. 28 and Santiago Canyon on Nov. 4.
You guys qualified for the playoffs the last six of seven seasons, what would you contribute the team’s success to?
McNicol: I think we just got a great group of kids. We’ve gotten a lot of young women that come in here with a great mindset who want to get better and they want to be team players. We are very blessed in our area to have a lot of great soccer programs there at the club level or high school level.we like to bring them in and build a great team and we like to hype them up into a really fun experience.
After winning the conference championship last year what would you say are the keys to defending the conference championship this year?
McNicol: I think we are in the hardest conference in the state. It’s not just about winning one or two games that you can win in a row to win it, you have to be great to win it. And we will look to try to get back to back championships. But it takes being there every single game and you got to be mentally prepared for it. It takes a lot to slip up and you don’t get those points back and we are excited to be full force when that starts.
What are some of the goals you have for the team, and for you guys as captains what are some of your personal goals you want to achieve this season?
McNicol: So as a team we want to win the conference, we want to win state and if you do that you’re in the running for a national title. So from a team stand point those are our goals. And captains…
Samantha Villasenor, Forward: I would save my personal goal as captain is just to push everyone to the best of their abilities whether it is on or off the field. I want to be a friend to everyone, I want everyone to know I have their back and I want to be a cheerleader for everyone on the team.
Olivia Wynn, Goalie: So my personal goal is to make everyone on the team feel welcomed and work hard um, get recruited to a four year university, since that’s my plan after.
Alyssa Sims, Defender: Yeah, piggybacking off the both of them for me positivity is the most important thing, um that’s what it takes to win and build team culture. So um I want to make everybody on this team have a good memory, you know we all get to play soccer for a long team, so I just want the memories to be good here and stay positive.
Do you have any new formations or plays that you would like to use in tonight‘s game?
McNicol: I think there are some set pieces that are still a work in progress, so hopefully will see those executed properly in the next match, but we are constantly trying to evolve. I think our 4-3-3 formation is tough for other teams to deal with, so we usually… don’t make the changes we force the other team to make changes.
Are there any new players you saw at the Azteca Challenge Cup that you would like to include into tonight’s match or even last week’s match?
McNicol: I think there’s always kids popping up on our radar after a really great week of training. We try and make everything we do as competitive as we can possibly make it, and so there’s always kids hunting for it. And we have an amazingly challenging time picking a lineup, because there’s only 11 on the field, but we have a ton of great young women in that locker room that are constantly pushing to make their mark on that field.
The playoffs begin for the Bobcats Nov. 17.