The Saddleback women's soccer team battled back from an 0-2 deficit for a 4-3 win against Santiago Canyon College on Tuesday afternoon at the Great Park in Irvine. The Gauchos scored four goals in 18 minutes in rallying past the Hawks.
Saddleback looked a bit star-struck in the opening half, playing against a Santiago Canyon program that has won 15 straight Orange Empire Conference titles. The Hawks controlled play throughout the opening 45 minutes, outshooting Saddleback 9-2 and looking like a squad on way to a 16th straight OEC title.
Saddleback had different plans, rallying the troops at halftime and turning the tables on Santiago Canyon. Maliyah Medley played a starring role, scoring two goals in a matter of 10 minutes to tie the game with just over 30 minutes remaining. She scored her first of the game in the 49th minute off a pass from Paige Vitolo, and then streaked down the near side of the field for an open ball in the 59th minute, beating the defender and eventually the keeper for a 2-2 tie.
Saddleback wasn't finished, scoring two more goals in the 60th and 67th minutes. Mia Wood redirected a corner kick from Abby Hazen to give Saddleback a 3-2 lead. Four minutes later, Carina Rubalcaba scored her first goal of the season unassisted and the Gauchos suddenly had a 4-2 lead.
Santiago Canyon finally woke up, scoring a goal in the 84th minute to make things interesting. Adding to the pressure was Gaucho Paige Vitolo picking up a red card in the 88th minute and leaving Saddleback a woman down. The Hawks pressured over the final minutes of the game, but couldn't get the equalizer past keeper Lehar Chawla, who played the final 45 minutes of the game.
The win pushes Saddleback's unbeaten streak to five games. The Gauchos are now 6-3-4 overall and 3-1-3 in Orange Empire Conference play. Saddleback will attempt to continue the unbeaten streak on Friday when they travel to first place Cypress. The Gauchos and Chargers tied 1-1 in their first meeting of the year on October 1.