MISSION VIEJO - The Saddleback women's soccer team advanced to the regional finals with a 1-0 victory over Cypress College on Tuesday night inside the stadium. The Bobcats will travel to Santiago Canyon College on Saturday with a spot in the state tournament on the line.
Saddleback and Cypress were neck-and-neck throughout the night. Both teams had a few opportunities but solid goalkeeping on both sides saw them scoreless until the later stages of the game.
Saddleback finally broke through in the 79th minute when Kylie Beu redirected a set piece from Zoe Chung to beat Cypress keeper Siriana Gudino for a 1-0 lead. It was the 11th goal of the season for Beu, on what was her only shot for the night.
Saddleback then had to hang on for dear life as Cypress made a late charge in an attempt to get an equalizer. The Chargers forced the action down the stretch, but were unable to get one past Jamie-Lynne Clark.
The Chargers looked as if they would tie the score when Jassmin Ortiz took a free kick from just outside the box that was heading towards the upper right corner of the net. Clark leaped and redirected the ball over the net to preserve the lead. Moments later Abigail Morales zipped a ball towards the left post that Clark leaped in front of, again preserving the shutout. Cypress had yet another ball that caromed off the crossbar, but the Chargers were whistled for off-sides on the play.
Eventually the referee whistled the game final and the Saddleback players raced on to the field to celebrate the win. It was sweet revenge for Saddleback after Cypress knocked the Bobcats out of the playoffs in the regional finals a season ago.
The game was physical throughout as the referee whistled the teams for a combined 35 fouls. Cypress held an 11-8 advantage in total shots while both teams finished with five shots on goal.
Saddleback is now 18-2-3 overall for the year. The Bobcats will travel to another Orange Empire Conference rival, Santiago Canyon College, on Saturday. The game is scheduled to start at 2:00 PM.
Saddleback finished 0-1-1 against Santiago Canyon this season, tying the Hawks in Orange (2-2) on October 11 before falling to Santiago Canyon at home (0-1) on November 4.
(Saddleback College Athletics)