Late Rally Falls Short, Women's Soccer Season Ends In Round 2 Playoff Loss

Destiny Delgado in action during PCC's regional playoff game at SBCC (photo by Richard Quinton).
Destiny Delgado in action during PCC's regional playoff game at SBCC (photo by Richard Quinton).

Time and time again during the 2023 season, the Pasadena City College women's soccer team would find moments of quick strike ability. Trailing 3-0 late in its Southern California Regional Playoff quarterfinal match at #5 seed Santa Barbara City College, the #13 Lancers went into full offensive mode.

Christina Garcia scored on a header off a cross by Delilah Vazquez in the 80th minute, then Megan Schmidt assisted on Charlie Gallardo's breakaway goal just seven minutes later that put the ultimate scare into the Vaqueros. PCC's rally, though, fell short in a 3-2 defeat, ending the program's best season in 22 years.

PCC (15-6-4) had numerous near opportunities to reach the net, but played from behind for nearly the entire game. SBCC (13-6-3) scored in the third minute on a goal deep in the box by Lucia Fleck and then sub Jordan Briner lifted a kick from the side of the box that landed in the upper corner of the net for a 2-0 lead less than a minute before halftime. 

In the 48th minute, the play of the game occurred when Gallardo was robbed of a sure goal when SBCC goalie Anna Kirk made a unbelievable leaping stop on a drive from the 15-yard line that was targeted just under the crossbar. Instead of a 2-1 deficit, the Vaqueros then would tally what would prove to be game-winner on Gabriela Faramarzi's hard rifle shot from the 10-yard line in the 73rd minute.

Lancers goalie Francesca Agliolo made a sensational save on Faramarzi moments after her goal that kept the score at 3-0.

PCC outshot Santa Barbara, 16-10, but Kirk ended up with nine saves. Among some of the better chances for PCC were turned in by Bertha Guzman, a blast that went just a few feet above the bar in the 45th minute, a header high by Hailey Hull off a Schmidt cross in the 55th minute, and a Garcia shot turned away by Kirk in the 83rd minute off a free kick by Gallardo. 

"I couldn't be more more proud of the team and all that we accomplished this season," said PCC head coach Terryn Soelberg. "We overcame some obstacles and made some mistakes, but overall we established that we are a program that will be competing with the best from here on out."

Pasadena reached the second round of the postseason for just the fourth time in school history after a 3-year stretch from 1999-2001 of making it that far. The '23 season marked the end of two long, road winless streaks against South Coast Conference perennial powers Cerritos (down year for Falcons) in a 1-0 win on Oct. 17 and the 2-1, double overtime victory at #4 seed Mt. San Antonio on Saturday that was the first-ever win in Walnut in the program's 27-year history.

In 2000, the team totaled a school-record 16 victories, a mark that this team eclipsed at 17, but unfortunately will come with an *asterisk after two victories were removed by the 3C2A for breaking the game-limit rule prior to the playoffs. That affected the team's seeding as a #10-state ranked Lancers squad and likely #6 host seed was taken away by the harsh infraction. 

Schmidt (Burroughs High, Burbank) closed her 2-year PCC career leading the team in goals with 11. Her overall 22 goals and seven assists for 51 points places her 12th on the school's all-time points list (12th player to reach at least 20 goals). Schmidt earned All-SCC Second Team as a freshman.



Freshman midfielder Gallardo (in photo v. SBCC) led All-South Coast Conference six selections on the First and Second Teams. She topped the team in overall scoring with 10 goals, six assists for 26 points. Her dynamic play, strong leg on corner and free kicks, and an ability to carry the ball upfield with sharp passing and hard running made Gallardo (from Monrovia High) become a potential All-State type performer.

Also making All-SCC First Team was frosh defender and header specialist Itzel Nunez, who was one of the conference's top players as well and maybe the team's most physical player. Nunez (Academia Advance) scored two goals and two assists, but was impactful often with rock-like ability to thwart opponent scoring chances in their tracks, and allow for the team to have transition offense. 

The team's third First Team choice was yet another solid defender in freshman Destiny Delgado (Arcadia HS), who not only broke up plays, but had several goal-saving kick outs inside the goalie box.

Making All-SCC Second Team was transfer sophomore defender Riley Buck (Santiago High), who had two goals, and created scoring opportunites on transition plays with her speed, Vazquez (Marshall Fundamental), a freshman midfielder-defender, who had four assists and provided yet another 2-way type player, and defender Tatiana Grigoryan (Crescenta Valley), who quietly provided efficient defense around the PCC goalies. 


PCC had two strong first-year college goalies in Agliolo (San Gabriel HS), who compiled a 1.18 goals against average, backstopped four complete shutouts, and made 72 saves and Natalia Portillo (West Covina), who played most of the first half of the season, allowing only five goals, sporting an 0.56 GAVG and a school-record .906 save percentage (48 saves in 13 appearances before an injury curtailed her play).

Freshman forward-midfielder Hull (Pasadena High) turned into the team's speedy catalyst off the bench with eight goals, four game-winners including her shot in overtime that knocked off Mt. SAC, and three helpers.

Frosh foward Angely Puga (Marshall Fundamental) played skilled offense and finished third on the team in overall scoring with seven goals and six assists. Another talented scorer was Alexa Espinoza-Gutierrez (Covina HS), who totaled six goals and six assists. Garcia (Monrovia, three goals and two assists), Michelle Navarro (Glendale, three goals),and Angie Grigoryan (Crescenta Valley, two goals) all were freshmen who delivered big plays during the season.


Besides Schimidt and Buck, the Lancers thank the services of sophomores in midfielder Guzman (Arcadia, five goals and six assists in her two seasons), defender Katy Cabral-Sinardi (Burroughs), defender Stephanie Martinez, and 2022 All-SCC Second Team performer Isabela Guerrero (Gabrielino), who suffered a season-ending injury after scoring two goals in the '23 season opener. Guerrero will get her year back in eligibility, but may be moving on after leading the team in scoring last year (nine goals, nine assists).


The Lancers could potentially return 18 players in 2024 including those mentioned and others like goalie Layla Hoyo, midfielders Samantha Shahin, Halle Cervantes, Claudia Soos and defender Alyssa Avila. Ten freshmen were regular starters on this year's squad, which certainly makes PCC a probable conference and postseason contender. The program has never won a SCC championship, a goal that is within reach.

Coach Soelberg was assisted this season by PCC men's soccer head coach Francisco Cantero and assistant David Garcia.