The Saddleback women's soccer team opened up Orange Empire Conference play with a 3-2 win over Santa Ana College on Tuesday at the OC Great Park in Irvine. The Gauchos rallied with two goals in the second half in improving to 4-0-1 overall.
Saddleback trailed for the majority of the opening half after a couple of nifty goals from the Dons gave the Gauchos their first deficit of the season. Santa Ana opened the scoring in the 9th minute when Lauren Wood scored an unassisted goal for the Dons for a 1-0 lead. Saddleback finally answered in the 23rd minute when Chelsea Viera sent a pass across the box that hit a Santa Ana defender and bounced into the right side of the net. Santa Ana answered a minute later on one of the better goals of the season as Leyna Wood headed in a pass from her sister Lauren, giving the Dons a 2-1 lead.
Saddleback dominated play throughout both halves but went into the locker room down 2-1 despite outshooting the Dons 10-5. The Gauchos came out on fire in the second half, keeping up pressure in the offensive zone as Santa Ana started to run out of gas on an 88-degree day in Irvine. Saddleback finally got the equalizer in the 53rd minute when Viera fed Marisa Covarrubias for her second goal of the season to tie the game at 2-2.
Saddleback continued to pressure while Santa Ana did everything they could to slow down the game. Despite all the stall tactics, the Gauchos broke through with the go-ahead goal in the 82nd minute when Julie Lawson blasted a rebound into the back of the net for a 3-2 lead. It was Lawson's second goal of the year and gave Saddleback a lead they would never relinquish.
Saddleback held a 23-9 advantage in total shots and an 11-4 advantage in shots on goal for the game. Collette Halloran came into relieve Jolie Moore between the pipes in the opening half in picking up her first win of the season in goal.
Saddleback (4-0-1, 1-0-0) will play again on Friday when they travel to Cypress College to take on the Chargers. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:00 PM.