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COC soccer shoots for state

Stacey Atwater broke two school scoring records

Posted: November 21, 2013 10:49 p.m.
Updated: November 21, 2013 10:49 p.m.

Stacey Atwater, right, and her College of the Canyons teammates celebrate after during a game against Bakersfield College at COC on Oct. 8.

 

If you need any evidence of the amount of female soccer talent in the Santa Clarita Valley, look no further than College of the Canyons.

A roster filled with former SCV high school stars has elevated the COC Cougars to one of the best community college programs in the nation.

COC just wrapped up its third straight Western State Conference, South Division championship last week and is headed into a first-round playoff matchup at home against Mt. San Antonio College on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Southern California Regional CCCAA bracket.

“If you have really good players, you’re going to do well and I think the girls soccer in Santa Clarita is outstanding and so there’s a lot of talent out here,” said COC head coach Justin Lundin, whose team has now played 34 straight conference games without a loss dating back to Oct. 21, 2011.

This is Lundin’s fifth year heading the program and this year marks a third straight playoff appearance. COC is No. 3 in the nation, according to one junior college ranking by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

But the Cougars have been near the top of those rankings before, yet they went down in the second round of the playoffs each of the past two years.

With a young team that is hitting its stride and riding a 16-1-4 record headed into Saturday’s matchup, Lundin thinks this year could be the breakthrough.

“The thing on this year’s team that I like is their mentally,” Lundin said. “Just that they think they can beat any team they play.”

One player who has been paramount to the team’s rise to prominence is Saugus graduate Stacey Atwater.

She now holds the school single-season and career scoring records with 25 goals this year and 34 total as a Cougar.

“I would say her ability to get in behind defenses and ability just to be in the right place in the right time,” Lundin said of her scoring ability.

Atwater gets help from Hart graduate Allie Leon and Saugus graduate Lizzie Rivas, a pair of center midfielders who distribute the ball and attack well.

Leon has five goals on the year and Rivas has four.

K.T. Koury has also been a stifling goalkeeper all year, accumulating 52 saves and allowing just seven goals all year while playing nearly 90 percent of the team’s minutes in goal.

In all, COC’s starting lineup includes six SCV high school grads.

It’s a homegrown team primed to make a run at the team’s first state title in school history.

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