No one took the pains of the 2016 season harder than Pasadena City College women's soccer head coach Reggie Rivas. Injuries, offensive deficiencies, and goaltending issues resulted in a down year for the Lancers as they won just three times in 21 matches. Rivas and his assistant coaching staff spent the off-season identifying the team's needs and are excited about the prospects for the 2017 season.
"What happened last season was just unacceptable," Rivas said. "We had a strong defensive group overall, but we lacked in other areas. We improved our team speed up front this year, brought in some transfer sophomores with good experience, and the returners we brought back are key performers. Our freshmen class has size and will make an impact as well. We have an entire package now and it's time to start winning games again."
Rivas' crew opened the '17 campaign on a winning note Friday with a hard-fought, 3-1 victory over visiting West Los Angeles College, a team that blanked the Lancers last year, 3-0. In the non-conference match at Robinson Stadium, two letterman forwards each scored their first collegiate goals five minutes apart to take a 2-0, first-half lead. Toni Dwyer fired in a rebound off her own initial hard shot stopped by WLAC goalie Concepcion Rios for PCC's first goal in the 25th minute. In the 30th minute, Kaitlin Ruiz cradled a loose ball on the left hash mark and lofted a shot from the 20-yard line that found the corner of the net.
The Wildcats responded two minutes later as Shelsin Chavez snuck into the box and connected off a lead pass for the visitors' lone goal.
In the 80th minute, PCC got a boost from the talents of two Kansas Wesleyan University sophomore transfers as midfielder Brianna Aguilar (Crescenta Valley High) took a nifty short pass from midfielder Thamara Peterson (Maranatha HS) and fired in a long-range goal from 28 yards out. Peterson is a 2-time, All-Olympic League selection.
PCC will rely heavily on the veteran leadership provided by returning All-South Coast Conference First Team defender Chloe Twitchell and All-SCC Second Team midfielder Emily Matthiesen (two goals, one assist last year), who will move into more of an offensive role in her second season.
The team is high on starting goalie Lilly Urumieh, a redshirt freshman from Cal State Northridge and a product of Crescenta Valley High. Urumieh made three saves in the season opener, and "has tremendous skills and covers the box well with her agility," according to Rivas. Yulissa Macias (Glendale High) will back up Urumieh and is also a midfielder for the Lancers.
Already showing her talents at center-back is top freshman defender Alexxis Molinar, who was twice named to the Pasadena Star-News All-Area Second Team at Temple City High. Molinar broke up several West LA opportunities inside the 20 yard-line. Another top defender is a returner from two seasons ago in Kelly Youssef, who was an All-South Coast Conference honorable mention for the Lancers in 2015.
"We have offense and we have a No. 1 goalie," Rivas said. "What's great is we don't have to sacrifice our strength in the defensive zone. If we can net two to three goals, the wins will come."
PCC hosts local rival Glendale College on Tuesday, Aug. 29. Game time is 3 p.m. but start time may change due to the expected high heat conditions next week. Check this website and our twitter @PCCAthletics for updates.
The Lancers begin the SCC North Division part of their schedule on Sept. 29 at Chaffey College.