Saddleback freshman forward Emilee Monnig (No.4, red) dribbles into Hornets territory, putting the pressure on their defense (Dominic Ebel/Lariat)
The Saddleback College women’s soccer team stayed undefeated so far and has only one tie that was against Orange Coast College last Wednesday. The Gauchos are still holding on to second place behind nationally ranked No.16, first place in Orange Empire Conference, Santiago Canyon College who has an overall record of 6-0-1.
The Gauchos entered at No.17 in the national ranking poll by knocking out nationally ranked No.9 Cypress College, 2-0 last Friday at Chargers field that knocked them down to third in the OEC. The Gauchos kept undefeated at Saddleback as well, shutting out the Fullerton College Hornets, 3-0. The Gauchos overall record is now 6-1-0.
“Fullerton is always a tough team to beat,” head coach BJ McNicol said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to start with some early goals.”
Gauchos early season wins could be a good sign of things to come ahead according to them being nationally ranked at No.17. Opponents will put a target on their calendar when they play the Gauchos, their darts are aiming for the bullseye.
“It was the first game of the year at home,” assistant coach Sean Melendez said. “It was a good home win to get us dialed in here.”
The defense is the backbone of the Gauchos and has been getting it done at home. The play of freshman midfielder Rachel Edelstein has been outstanding on defense.
“It’s a team effort it supports on everything we do here,” Edelstein said. “It comes from the top.”
The most valuable player is the player hustling herself and her teammates on making plays. Saddleback’s captain, sophomore midfielder Danielle Scelsi, has been doing it for the Gauchos and showcasing the full package.
“We are all working together, we are big time here,” Scelsi said. “We are hoping for it this year.”
Fullerton players fought early as they were winning some 50-50 balls at midfield, but they just couldn’t get passed the tough Gauchos band of defenders. Once the Gauchos broke through Fullerton’s midfield they connected to freshman forward Emilee Monnig who single handedly could beat any defender one on one.
“I was going for the goal and as I beat the defense I broke free, setting myself on goal as I saw the goalie come across,” Monnig said. “I tricked the keeper that I was going to take the shot, tapped the pass to the middle to my player for the goal.”
The Gauchos cleared the field, substituting players after the period mark when they had a couple of goals scored. The battle continued as Fullerton never let up keeping the game intense to the end.
“We really have a strong connection together,” freshman midfielder Jordan Carrillo said. “It transfers to the field.”
The last line of defense is the goalkeeper and Saddleback has two excellent ones. Freshman Shana Leventhal shut out nationally ranked Cypress College last week. Freshman keeper Avalon Mackey played the whole game against Fullerton, making plays and shutting out the Hornets.
“I knew when we put up our wall on a penalty kick they could not bend it to the right easy,” Mackey said. “So when they shot on goal I knew I had it.”
The Gauchos players have a lot of confidence in key positions that they need going forward at this point in the season. The key is keeping them going forward and getting better.
“I think we’re very fortunate that we have players who seem already have chemistry developed, our players are fast learners in developing teamwork,” assistant coach Henry Ramires said. “It’s all about teamwork.”
The big Cypress win was the first time they beat them on Chargers Field. This seems to be the incentive for the Gauchos to push forward this season.
“We beat Cypress there convincingly like we got the win here,” assistant coach Kassiani Anast said. “It’s contagious, it’s carrying us over into a good record.”
Saddleback will play Norco College on Friday, Sept. 25 and will attempt to remain undefeated. The game will kickoff at 3 p.m.