College of the Canyons girls soccer may have had 12 players earn All-Western State Conference honors, but these athletes certainly aren’t a dime a dozen.
“It was a great honor to have 12 players be selected for the conference team,” said coach Justin Lundin, who was named WSC, East Coach of the Year for the third consecutive season. “I think it just goes to show that quality of student athletes that we’re able to attract at College of the Canyons.”
Saugus High graduate Hailey Phipps earned WSC, East Division Player of the Year. Additionally, five players were named first-team all-conference, four were named second team and two received honorable mention.
Although Phipps is listed as a defensive player, she has offensive power, too. Her six goals were part of a three-way tie for second most on the team, which finished 12-4-4 overall and 6-0-2 in conference to win its sixth straight WSC title.
“Defensively, as a center back she’s formidable,” Lundin said. “She’s tall and strong, she reads the game very well, but she also brings the ability to score goals off of set pieces.
“You think they’d be scored in the air with her head, but she’s scoring directly off of free kicks herself. She has a strong and accurate foot, and she’s been able to score goals from a long way out.”
The freshman’s actions on the field may have spoken volumes this season, but Phipps struggled to find her voice as a leader early in the year.
“I was quiet when I came in,” she said. “I knew a couple girls from high school, but I was the only one coming in from my high school. I felt like I had to earn my place, and I worked hard to earn my spot, and I became more comfortable with the team. I worked up to become a leader.”
Phipps was eventually named a captain and was a playmaker as part of a solid back three that only allowed 14 goals all season.
“As a defender I defend,” she said. “I also like to pass the ball as much as I can and set up my teammates, but if I do have opportunities I will take them.”
The Cougar first-teamers were goalkeeper Kianna Hemphill, forward Angel Quintero (Canyon grad), midfielder Monica Blackstock (Saugus grad), defender Isabella Hochner and defender Daphne Coffey (Valencia).
Second team honors were awarded to defender Justine Hoeft (Golden Valley), midfielder Kailey Marquez (Valencia), forward Amanda Balzer (Saugus) and forward Jackie Mendez.
Forward Taylor Lopez and defender Jade Ane (Saugus) earned honorable mention.
It’s the fifth time in Lundin’s career at COC that he was named Coach of the Year.