The Pasadena City College women's soccer team has re-loaded its 2016 roster with 16 incoming freshmen as the Lancers plan on carrying their largest roster in the four seasons under head coach Reggie Rivas. Depth will be a key component for Pasadena as it looks to improve on a middle of the pack finish (fifth place) in the South Coast Conference last year.
The Lancers return only five players, including All-SCC Second Team midfielder and top scorer Sandra Ambrosio. Other sophomores are midfielder Juliana Gurule, forward Alexis Acosta, goalie Natalie Martin, and defender Rina Garcia.
On Tuesday, PCC opened the '16 season with a 2-0 home loss to Santa Ana, a team off to a tremendous beginning this year after a rout over San Diego City, 9-1, in the Dons opener on Aug. 26. The Lancers fell behind on a 15-yard drive by Kimberly Robles in the 28th minute. Despite several scoring attempts in the second half, including two close range shots by Acosta and a wide free kick from 25 yards out by Isabel Diaz (Alverno High) in the 77th minute, PCC couldn't get one across against goalie Reyna Campos (seven saves). SAC added a goal in the 79th minute against the Lancers new No. 1 goalie in freshman Amy Castillo (Blair High, Pasadena). Castillo made six saves in the game.
PCC's freshmen include a trio of strong players from Monrovia High in defenders Chloe Twitchell and Aisling O'Beirne and midfielder Emily Matthiesen. Monrovia won the Rio Hondo League title earlier this year. Rivas called Twitchell one of the most talented defensive players to ever come into the PCC program. Both Twitchell and O'Beirne were standouts in the opener as they broke up several potential Santa Ana scoring attempts. Another newcomer on defense is Summer Hofsted from Temple City High.
While Acosta, Gurule and Ambrosio are expected to be playmakers on offense, the Lancers are looking for offense from forward Isabel Diaz (Alverno High), whose sister Christina Diaz is a starting defender on the team. Another standout is midfielder Janel Ismail from South Pasadena High.
"We expect a lot from our sophomores, but the only way we are going to compete is with our freshmen making a quicker adjustment to college soccer," Rivas said. "There were some really good things we saw in the opener. Santa Ana has fast forwards and we kept them down for the most part. Castillo is athletic at goalie and I think our defender group is pretty solid. We have good passers and some strong legs so I think the offense is capable of being better than last year. Having a sophomore like Ambrosio at midfield is a big presence for us. The team has really good energy."
The Lancers join a re-booted South Coast North Division that includes two former Foothill teams in Chaffey and Rio Hondo to go with Mt. San Antonio and East Los Angeles.
On Friday, Sept. 2, PCC returns to action with a match at West Los Angeles College. Game time is 4 p.m.
[Photo--Freshman defender Chloe Twitchell is expected to be a top player for the Lancers. She's in action during the team's season opener v. Santa Ana on Tuesday, image by Richard Quinton.]