For the first time in six years the Saddleback women's soccer program is on to the second round of the playoffs after a 2-1 win at Rio Hondo on Saturday night. The Gauchos will play Santa Barbara in the next round of the playoffs.
Saddleback fell behind in the 22nd minute when Rio Hondo took a 1-0 lead with a goal. The Gauchos battled back to 1-1 at the half when Abby Hazen fed Paige Vitolo for her 15th goal of the season in the 35th minute.
Saddleback came out fast in the second half and took it to the Roadrunners. The Gauchos tallied the game-winner in the 52nd minute when Vitolo took a pass from Maliyah Medley and steered it into the net for her second goal of the game.
Saddleback outplayed Rio Hondo for much of the game, outshooting the Roadrunners 12-9 with a 7-6 advantage in shots-on-goal. Lehar Chawla played the entire game in goal, finishing with five saves.
"The team stepped up on little rest and played one of their better games of the season," head coach BJ McNicol said. "They've got a lot of heart and it showed tonight."
Saddleback (13-5-4) advances to the second round of the CCCAA Southern California Regional Playoffs for the first time since 2013. The Gauchos will take on Santa Barbara City College (13-6-3), who defeated Ventura College in penalty kicks (4-3) after battling to a 1-1 tie through 120 minutes. Santa Barbara was the champions of the Western State North Division. The Gauchos and Vaqueros will play on Tuesday. The game time has yet to be determined.
The last time Saddleback advanced to the second round of the playoffs, the Gauchos fell to eventual state champion Cerritos College, 0-3.