By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
College of the Canyons begins the 2019 regular season in seemingly unfamiliar territory.
For the first time in recent memory the Cougars will not start the season as defending conference champions.
After a string of seven consecutive Western State Conference (WSC) championships from 2011 to 2017, Canyons narrowly missed out on an eighth straight title in 2018, instead finishing runner up to Antelope Valley College.
COC concluded the year 8-8-3 overall after falling to that same Antelope Valley team in the opening round of the CCCAA SoCal Regional Playoffs by a 2-1 final score.
On Thursday, COC head coach Justin Lundin and the Cougars will begin their quest for the programs 12th conference title by taking the pitch vs. Cypress College on day one of the New Balance Community College Showcase at Ventura College. That contest is scheduled to begin at noon.
Canyons is also scheduled to face East L.A. College at 10 a.m. on Friday.
This will mark the fourth straight season in which Canyons has opened the season at the annual showcase event.
Returning for the Cougars in 2019 are sophomores Gracell Magnaye and Jennifer Patino, both All-WSC First Team selections a year ago, along with Angelina Maldonado who received an Honorable Mention nod. Also back in the fold is Jennifer Roney who played for Lundin in 2017 and earned All-WSC Second Team recognition as a freshman before taking a red shirt year.
Also joining the squad are Maggie Maldonado (Pete Knight), Lesly Cabrera (Eastside), Araceli Castaneda (Palmdale Aerospace Academy), Heaven Garcia (Paraclete) and Aileen Lopez (Pete Knight) who should already be familiar with each other's skill sets after competing together on the same club team.
Freshman Aaliyah Lopez (Fillmore) takes over in net for the Cougars. 2018 goalkeeper Ana Spross also remains with the program, but now serves as a volunteer assistant coach.
Lundin is entering his 11th season at the helm after guiding the program to a combined record of 135-41-34 in his first 10 seasons. Longtime assistant coach Charles Martinez begins his eighth season with the program.
The Cougars will take on San Bernardino Valley College in its home opener at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13. COC is slated to host 10 regular season home games this season.
The 14-game WSC schedule begins a few weeks later with a home match vs. AVC at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1.
Admission to all Cougars soccer home games is free. A full 2019 schedule can be seen here.
Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.