Puga Ignites Women's Soccer 4-Goal Second Half In Home-Opening Victory

Angely Puga battles for the ball with teammate Riley Buck assisting during PCC's win on Saturday night (photo by Richard Quinton).
Angely Puga battles for the ball with teammate Riley Buck assisting during PCC's win on Saturday night (photo by Richard Quinton).

After not capitalizing on numerous opportunities during a scoreless first half, the Pasadena City College women's soccer team looked for someone to step up. The Lancers found it in freshman forward Angely Puga, who scored two goals in a span of five minutes early in the second half as PCC rolled past Norco, 4-0, under the lights at Robinson Stadium on Saturday.

The home-opening win improved PCC's record to 2-0-1 while Puga (Marshall Fundamental) ended a 171-minute team scoring drought that extended to the season opener.

Just two minutes into the second half, Puga accepted a tap pass from Stephanie Martinez and ripped a drive from 22 yards away that beat Norco's second goalie Kyra Montano. Then five minutes later, Puga deked a Norco defender then found the left corner of the net on a hard roller for a 2-0 PCC lead. Alexa Espinoza-Gutierrez assisted on the score.

"It was a matter time," said PCC head coach Terryn Soelberg. "The players really stepped it up in the second half with a sense of urgency to score. We knew once we got one goal, the rest would follow."

It was Espinoza-Gutierrez (Covina frosh forward) turn in the 65th minute when she got around a Norco defender with a nifty deke then with her back to the net, turned and fired a blast that roofed the net. Hallee Cervantes assisted on the score.

In the 67th minute, the Lancers capped the scoring when Megan Schmidt stole a loose ball and scored on a breakaway from six yards out.  It was the returning All-South Coast Conference Second Team Schmidt's first goal of the season after leading the team last year with 11 goals.

Schmidt, Puga, and Espinoza-Gutierrez each totaled five shots as the Lancers completely dominated Norco (0-3), outshooting the Mustangs, 26-2. 

Norco starting goalie Valerie Martinez made five saves, a few robbing Schmidt on close in opportunites. Martinez ended up not allowing any of the Lancers goals in her 67 minutes of play. Meanwhile, it was an easy night for PCC frosh goalie Natalia Portillo (West Covina), who picked up her second straight shutout with two saves.

When Norco did make some pushes to the Lancers side of the field, defenders Destiny Delgado, Tatiana Grigoryan, Itzel Nunez, and Riley Buck, a sophomore transfer who played at Norco in 2019, kept the Mustangs from mounting any scoring chances. 

On August 29, the Lancers also controlled things but settled for a 0-0 tie at Bakersfield College, Soelberg's alma mater. 

The 2-0-1 start is the best in three seasons under Soelberg and the best since 2019 when the Lancers opened with a 7-match undefeated streak (4-0-3). That squad was directed by PCC's current men's head coach Francisco Cantero, who is also serving as Soelberg's assistant coach for women this season.

On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the Lancers return to action with a 4 p.m. non-conference home game v. Irvine Valley (0-2).