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COC teams push for the playoffs

Posted: October 26, 2009 10:58 p.m.
Updated: October 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
One team is off to a strong start. A couple others are battling for postseason berths.

There are local products boosting their teams’ performance. There’s even a coach on maternity leave.

The fall sports season at College of the Canyons has no shortage of storylines.

The Cougars’ men’s soccer team has no shortage of young talent.

Only two sophomores start for COC, which is currently 9-5 overall and 6-2 in the Western State Conference, two points behind WSC leader Santa Barbara.

Freshman striker Andres Bueno, a Golden Valley graduate, is third in the state with 34 total points. He has a conference-leading 13 goals and eight assists (two points are awarded for goals and one for assists).

“Offensively, we’re very gifted,” said COC head coach Phil Marcellin. “Defensively, we’ve improved quite a bit.”

The Cougars have given up 31 goals this year, but Marcellin said the defense has improved enough to allow the team to win high-scoring games consistently.

After dropping its season opener at home, COC has gone 5-0 at home, which bodes well for the rest of the season.

“Three of our last four games are at home,” Marcellin said. “To have most of the games down the stretch at home is good momentum.”

The Cougars are hoping to clinch a home game in the first round of the California Community College Athletic Association regional playoffs, which begin Nov. 21.

Marcellin also said this season is a culmination of sorts for the program, which has been on the rise.

“Our goal this year was to get into the postseason,” he said. “Right now we’re on the right track, and God willing we’re looking at a home game in the first round of the playoffs.”

The women’s soccer team, meanwhile, is just hoping it can get to the postseason.

The Cougars are 5-6-4 overall and 3-2-3 in the conference, but they are 17th in the latest South Region power rankings. The top 16 teams qualify for the playoffs.

COC’s remaining schedule is in its favor. Of the six remaining conference games, five are against teams below the Cougars in the WSC standings, and they don’t have to face conference-leading Pierce College again.

Hart graduate and Cal State Bakersfield transfer Sarina Coutin leads the team with five goals and five assists, while sophomore Ashley Hill and freshman Emma Wright each have four goals.

West Ranch graduate Lauren Crone and Valencia graduate Kylie Trammel each have three goals, and Saugus grad Nicole Quintanilla has two goals and two assists.

The women’s volleyball team, meanwhile, is in position to make a run at the conference title this year.

At 12-6 overall and 5-1 in the South Division of the Western State Conference, the Cougars trail Bakersfield by a game, and the two will meet Friday in Bakersfield.

“We started off really strong,” said assistant coach Clay Timmons. “I knew we’d be pretty talented, but we didn’t expect to be this good. We hit a bit of a lull in the preseason but we seem to be clicking really well now.”

The team has had to deal with an additional challenge. Head coach Lisa Hooper recently gave birth to twins and has had to cut back her time with the team this season.

Timmons, who won a 2003 CIF championship as a volleyball player at Valencia High, has stepped in as the interim coach.

“Ever since the beginning of the season she’s been prepping the girls and making the transition to me as smooth as possible,” Timmons said. “It’s nice to have her trust and that responsibility and believing I can do well with it.”

Canyon graduate and sophomore outside hitter Jillian Anderson leads the team with 189 kills, while West Ranch graduate and sophomore libero Brooklyn Arndt has 255 digs.

Canyon grad and sophomore setter Ashlie Arnold has a 99 percent set percentage, and Saugus grad and sophomore middle blocker Lindsey Wilcox is third in the conference in hitting percentage.

The men’s and women’s cross country teams are gearing up for the WSC championships, which will take place at 3 p.m. today at Cuesta College.

COC head coach Lindie Kane is hoping both teams can qualify for the Southern California championships, scheduled to begin Nov. 6 at Mt. San Antonio College.

In order to qualify, the teams must be among the top eight in the 13-team conference.

The women’s best finish of the season was at the Bakersfield Invite on Oct. 2, when the team wound up third.

The Cougars are young on the women’s side, with just one returning sophomore in Crystal Serrano. Saugus graduate Danielle Schaefer is the team’s No. 1 runner as a freshman.

“She’s been our top female runner all year long,” Kane said. “Our goal for her is to earn all-conference honors.”

The top 28 individuals at the SoCal championships will earn either first-team, second-team or honorable mention honors.

For the men, returning sophomore Michael McAvoy is the No. 1 runner.

“We’re not as strong as we have been in the past,” Kane said of the men’s team. “We’re focusing on personal improvement.”

The COC women’s golf team is also trying to improve as it sits one place behind Santa Barbara for second place in the WSC.

The Cougars returned just two sophomores this season, and head coach Gary Peterson likes how his freshmen have developed.

“We’ve played better than I thought we would, and the promising things is we return four of these golfers next year,” Peterson said.

Sophomore Jennifer Kim has paced the Cougars in many matches this fall, and freshmen Kris Chung and Brenda Chaplin have been right behind her.

Golden Valley graduate Brittany Suarez has also been a contributor as a freshman.

COC will take part in the WSC championships, which begin at 10 a.m. this Sunday at Buenaventura Golf Course.

“The whole arena of community college women’s golf has gotten significantly better,” Peterson said. “Now it’s competitive. It’s genuine women playing good golf.”

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