The College of the Canyons women’s soccer team already has playoffs on the brain. After finishing last season 12-4-4 overall and winning the program’s sixth straight conference title, the Cougars were eliminated from the SoCal Regional playoffs in the first round. Now, they’re looking to make it back and hopefully go even further. “We want to win every game this year,” said sophomore Hailey Phipps, a Saugus grad. “Our goal every year is to make it to the final four. I hope to go even further than the final four and win state.” It’ll start with the back line, which Phipps anchored as the All-Western State Conference, East Division Player of the Year. She helped the defense to 10 shutouts and also scored six goals. She’ll be alongside Golden Valley grad Justine Hoeft, a right back who started every game last year.
Coach Justin Lundin said that members of a 15-player freshman class could be filling in on defense as well. “With COC, because it is a two-year college, we get half a new team every year,” Phipps said. “We’re just working on working together and fitness is important. You have to go 110 percent.” Canyon High grad Angel Quintero, a midfielder who accounted for 15 points last year (six goals, three assists), will be a key piece on the attack. Crystal Sanchez, a transfer from Cal State Northridge, will also be joining the team. From back to front, Phipps said the Cougars excel at getting the ball and keeping it. It’s something that is emphasized at every practice. “I just think our possession as a whole unit is really good,” she said. “We’re really good at finding each other. We’re good at possession and keeping the ball to ourselves and not losing it.” Golden Valley grad Jordan Burrow is back in net after sustaining a back injury last season and redshirting. Her freshman year, she saw playing time in half of Canyons’ games, according to Lundin. The pieces are there, and now it’s up to timing. “We’re hoping to be able to peak at the right time and have everybody playing well,” Lundin said. “…We’re going to have a lot of young, hungry players out there on the field, and we’ll take it one game at a time and work on building them up for that time of the year when playoffs roll around.” The Cougars start the regular season at home against Ventura at 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 28.