The Saddleback women's soccer team defeated Irvine Valley College, 2-0, on Thursday at the Saddleback Stadium to finish the regular season. The Gauchos will now wait to see if they qualified for the Southern California Regional Playoffs.
Saddleback had a rugged start to Orange Empire Conference play when they started 0-3 and looked like a team that was going to have a rough time qualifying for the playoffs. They finished the season by going 5-1-3 over their final nine games, including a 2-0 win on Thursday against their inter-district rival.
Saddleback also recorded its 11th shutout of the season, which is one shy of the program record set back in 2003. Dz-Rae Jara played the entire 90 minutes in the nets and made six saves, finishing the regular season by surrendering just 13 goals all year.
Saddleback and Irvine Valley were scoreless heading into the second half despite the Gauchos having a 4-1 advantage in shots on goal. Saddleback finally broke the ice in the 65th minute when Samantha Belmonte (pictured) scored her second goal of the season. The Gauchos then broke the game open three minutes later when Brittany Kaufman netted her second goal of the season for a 2-0 lead.
Saddleback finishes the regular season 10-5-5 overall and 7-4-5 in Orange Empire Conference play. The Gauchos were fifth place finishers in the OEC, widely considered one of the toughest conferences in the state.
Playoff bids will be handed out this weekend and the expectation is that the Gauchos could receive a spot given their power point total. Saddleback had the 9th best power point total in Southern California heading into the game on Thursday, and with 19 teams qualifying for the playoffs the hope is that they will qualify.