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The Saddleback athletics department announced this week that it will be adding men’s soccer in the fall of 2023. The Bobcats will play in the Orange Empire Conference.

Saddleback is coming off of a state championship run for the women’s program, who defeated Chaffey College (2-0) earlier in the month to capture the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) state title. The addition of men’s soccer is a further attempt to meet the demand of the community, which has grown in recent years due the popularity of the game and the success of the women’s program.

“At Saddleback, we coach our athletes to perform as well in the classroom as they do in their sport. We are excited to add men’s soccer to our outstanding roster of athletic teams and look forward to hosting games and spectators in the Saddleback Stadium.”

Current women’s head coach BJ McNicol will serve as the head coach of the men in 2023. McNicol has built a power program on the women’s side, making the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons and going 40-4-5 over the past two years. His program’s success reached a pinnacle this month when Saddleback was ranked the No. 1 women’s program in the nation for 2022 by the United Soccer Coaches.

Some of Saddleback’s recent success can be attributed to a new stadium facility that allows for a unique game-day experience. The games were streamed live on the 60-foot video board this past season, with accompanying crowd hype videos, live stats and music being played during breaks. It all added up to bigger crowds, increased fan participation and a synergy that was unrivaled by any program in the area.

“I think we offer the best game-day experience in the state,” McNicol said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to try and replicate the success we have had on the women’s side. South Orange County has a great soccer community and is a hotbed for student-athletes looking for a place to launch their college soccer career.”

Saddleback will compete in the Orange Empire Conference (OEC). The OEC has been a dominating force in women’s soccer in recent years, with programs from the conference winning three of the last four state titles and eight championships in the past 25 years. The OEC was also a power conference in men’s soccer around the turn of the century when Irvine Valley College (2) and Santa Ana College (6) won eight championships over a 13-year period. The last state title for the Orange Empire Conference in men’s soccer came in 2005 (Santa Ana).

Saddleback’s inaugural schedule for men’s soccer is expected to be released during the spring. Log onto for the latest news on Saddleback College athletics as it becomes available.

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