By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
For The Signal
After a three-year journey in which he transformed from a redshirt freshman to the conference player of the year, College of the Canyons sophomore forward Aaron Winsick committed to continuing his soccer career at nearby California Lutheran University on Thursday.
“It’s amazing,” said Winsick. “I’ve been playing soccer since I was four years old and I’ve always wanted to play college soccer, so this is a great opportunity.”
The Saugus High School product arrived at College of the Canyons in the summer of 2015 after a two-year stint with Centurion varsity team not knowing what his role with the Cougars would be.
Winsick took a redshirt season his first semester at Canyons and instead of preparing to play each week, delved into the team’s strength and conditioning program, while continuing to practice and hone his skills.
That work paid off, and by the next fall Winsick began to emerge as one of COC head coach Phil Marcellin’s key contributors, scoring three goals to earn an All-Western State Conference (WSC) Honorable Mention nod as a freshman.
But it wasn’t until his sophomore campaign that Winsick really came into his own.
“It’s a great story,” said Marcellin. “Aaron came in here and red-shirted his first year, then played kind of a part time role, then became a really key player for us down the stretch. He went from a guy that you would use in situations to a guy that you relied upon because of the number of goals he put in.”
Winsick finished his Cougar career by scoring six goals in the final three games of the 2017 season, including a three-goal output against conference rival Bakersfield College that resulted in a 3-2 win for Canyons.
“He’s a very flamboyant player. He scored some goals that were just magnificent,” added Marcellin. “But he’s also a guy that just shows up and does his job.”
Despite starting just seven games, Winsick tied for the team lead with nine goals and added an assist to finish with 19 points across 19 contests. He also led COC with 41 total shots and 25 shots on goal.
Those numbers earned Winsick co-Player of the Year honors alongside freshman midfielder Sergio Gonzalez (seven goals and five assists) of Citrus College, the conference champion. In doing so, Winsick became the first Cougar to be named Player of the Year since former COC student-athlete Andres Bueno earned the honor outright after the 2009 season.
“It’s really great to see that kind of a transformation,” said Marcellin. “He’s a great example. A case of perseverance and work ethic and some old school values, and it’s awesome to see that.
Lopez Keeps Cougars Unbeaten at Home
COC ace hurler Jacob Lopez turned in another strong start for the Cougars on Tuesday, taking a no-hit bid into the sixth inning to beat visiting Ventura College 3-2 on Thursday.
Sophomore Calvin Estrada clubbed a two-run bomb in the first inning and freshman Josh Arkin followed up with a solo shot in the seventh to provide Canyons with all the offense it would need.
Meanwhile, Lopez (2-1) cruised through the Pirates lineup through the first five frames before finally getting into a jam in the sixth.
That’s when the lefty walked three of the first four batters he faced and eventually surrendered an RBI single to Ventura infielder, and Saugus grad, Rudy Aguilar that cut the COC lead in half at 2-1.
Lopez, who also attended Saugus, finished the game with a season-high 10 strikeouts, having allowed two earned runs on five hits and four walks to earn the win.
In his five starts this season Lopez is boasting a 2.97 ERA across 33 and 1/3 innings of work. His 38 strikeouts also rank second in the state.
Canyons (8-5) remains unbeaten at Cougar Field this season where head coach Chris Cota’s lineup is averaging just under seven runs each time out. In fact, all eight of the team’s wins have come at home. Included in that total are four one-run victories, with two coming by way off the walk-off.
The Cougars will now hit the road to begin a two-game set with Orange Coast College at 12 p.m. on Saturday, then return home to conclude the series on Tuesday.
Men’s Basketball Eliminated from Postseason
No. 20 College of the Canyons dropped its opening round California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Southern California Regional playoff matchup vs. No. 13 Santiago Canyon College on Wednesday, bringing the Cougars’ season to an end.
COC (14-13, 5-3) trailed by eight points heading into halftime but couldn’t keep pace with the Hawks (19-9, 6-6), who shot a combined 55.9 percent from the field in the second half.
The Cougars received a big game from freshman Anthony Simone, who finished the night with 24 points on an 8-of-12 shooting performance.
Jacob Lilley netted 15 points, five assists and four rebounds and Michael Kalu was next with 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Robert Moss also added 11 points while Jude Agbasi came off the bench to score 10.
Canyons finished the year as runner up in the Western State Conference (WSC), South Division after falling to conference champion West L.A. College in the regular season finale. COC posted a 5-3 record over its final 10 contests heading into the postseason.
COC Athletics to Host Annual ‘Big Win’
Host ANnual ‘Big WInHost The COC Athletic Department will host its annual ‘Big Win’ benefit event supporting the college’s 17 intercollegiate athletic programs on Thursday, March 15.
The evening will provide attendees with a chance to mix and mingle with athletic department staff, enjoy a barbecue tri-tip dinner, and be entered for a chance to win a $3,000 grand prize.
The evening will begin with a no host bar starting at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and raffle drawing at 8 p.m. (winner need not be present to win).
Tickets are $100 and include two tri-tip dinners, drinks and one raffle entry. Admission can be purchased via check or credit card through the COC Foundation. Net proceeds benefit the Cougar Club which supports all 17 athletic programs at the college.
Event organizers ask that attendees RSVP their dinner reservation by Friday, March 2.
For more information visit COCathletics.com. To RSVP please call (661) 362-3491 or (661) 362-3737