The Saddleback women's soccer team found out on Tuesday that it has qualified for the Southern California Regional Playoffs as the No. 11 seed. They will play at No. 6 seed Santiago Canyon on Saturday at 2:00 PM.
Saddleback finished the regular season 10-5-5 overall and 7-5-4 in Orange Empire Conference play. The Gauchos were fifth place finishers in the conference and one of five teams from the OEC to qualify for the playoffs. Saddleback finished the season hot, going 5-1-3 in their last nine games. During the span, Saddleback allowed just five goals while scoring 11 times.
Saddleback had the 12th best defense in the state this season, recording 11 shutouts and a 0.65 goals-against average. They had four players named to the All-Orange Empire Conference Team in Dz-Rae Jara, Jessica Kron, Collette Halloran and Natally Gomez.
Santiago Canyon is the 14-time defending Orange Empire Conference champions and finished the regular season 17-2-1 overall and 14-1-1 in OEC play. The Hawks had nine players make the All-Orange Empire Conference Team and their coach, Ian Woodhead, was named the conference coach-of-the-year.
SCC defeated Saddleback on both occasions this season by identical 2-0 scores. In their last meeting on November 3, SCC and Saddleback were tied at 0-0 until the 84th minute when the Hawks broke through for a pair of goals in the final six minutes.
Despite the dominance by Santiago Canyon in OEC play over the past 14 years, Saddleback has been one of the teams that has given the Hawks some troubles in recent years. In the previous four matchups heading into the 2017 season, the teams were 2-2 against one-another in 2015-2016 with the Hawks holding a 3-2 advantage in goals over the four games.
Aside from Saddleback and Santiago Canyon, three other Orange Empire Conference programs qualified for the playoffs. Orange Coast is the 8-seed and will host Santa Monica on Saturday. Cypress garnered the 10-seed and will play at San Bernardino Valley on Saturday. Fullerton was the 14-seed and will host a play-in round game on Thursday against Ventura.
The winner of the Saddleback/Santiago Canyon game will play the winner of the Rio Hondo/play-in round winner (Fullerton/Ventura) next Tuesday or Wednesday.