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Cents make no room for three

Saugus girls soccer wins Foothill League title with draw

Posted: February 11, 2010 10:33 p.m.
Updated: February 12, 2010 4:30 a.m.
Saugus’ Bianca Lorenz (00) collides with Valenica goalkeeper Kaci McCain on after a shot in the first half on Thursday at Saugus High School. The Centurions clinched the outright Foothill League championship with the 2-2 draw. Saugus’ Bianca Lorenz (00) collides with Valenica goalkeeper Kaci McCain on after a shot in the first half on Thursday at Saugus High School. The Centurions clinched the outright Foothill League championship with the 2-2 draw.
Saugus’ Bianca Lorenz (00) collides with Valenica goalkeeper Kaci McCain on after a shot in the first half on Thursday at Saugus High School. The Centurions clinched the outright Foothill League championship with the 2-2 draw.
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From the first day of practice, Saugus girls soccer has held the mantle of team-to-beat.

Winning a CIF-Southern Section Division II championship will do that to a program.

But when three teams entered the final day of Foothill League play with the opportunity to share the league championship, the Centurions found themselves needing to prove that they stood above the rest.

With Saugus senior Brittanie Sakajian’s second goal of the day, the Centurions rallied to secure a 2-2 tie with Valencia on Thursday at Saugus High School, and win the outright Foothill League title.

“When you are the team that everyone wants to beat, it makes your road that much more difficult,” said Saugus head coach Natalie Helgeson. “It just shows that the girls can overcome a lot. They can get through a season with a target on their back and they can win it all. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Valencia (14-5-2, 6-3-1) and Hart (16-6-3, 7-3-0) entered the day three points behind Saugus (15-3-4, 7-2-1).

Three points are awarded for the win and one for a tie.

With the draw, the Centurions end the regular season one point ahead of the Indians, which beat Golden Valley 2-0 on Thursday, while Valencia finishes third.

“In any other game, at any other time of the season, this result might be a great result,” said Valencia head coach Sean O’Connell. “But here, you need a win to be there. A tie doesn’t quite cut it.”

Midway through the second half, it appeared as if a tri-championship was in the works after goals by Alyssa Triana and Kristin Bos put the Vikings up 2-1.

But in the 57th minute, Sakajian worked the give-and-go with teammate Colleen Ortega, and buried the shot near post for the equalizer.

“We can hear each other’s voices and we know where we are going,” Sakajian said. “With (teammate Jamie Molacek), I don’t need to look at her. I just know where she is at all times.”

That was evident in the first half, when the Centurions went up 1-0 five minutes into the game.

Sakajian ran onto Molacek’s pass and beat Valencia goalkeeper Kaci McCain to the loose ball.

As McCain dove, Sakajian kicked the ball off the inside of the far post and into the back of the net.

Saugus had many similar chances, but were unable to get the final step on McCain and a defense led by Madi White.

McCain repeatedly came off her line to put herself in harm’s way en route to seven saves, while the defense came up with multiple stops of its own.

In the 31st minute, Triana tied the game at 1-1 with a shot from outside the box, which bounced past Saugus goalkeeper Kelly Parker, and shifted the momentum Valencia’s way going into halftime.

Parker had two saves on the day.

“From the moment I woke up this morning, I was pumped to play this game,” Triana said. “All I wanted to do was win.”

Four minutes into the second half, the Vikings were in position to do just that.

Triana’s throw-in sailed into the box, where Bos was waiting to head the ball in for a 2-1 advantage.

“We’ve come a long way,” Triana said. “This year, of all the years I’ve been here, this is the tightest team I’ve been on.”

After Sakajian’s second goal knotted the game at 2-2, 20 minutes of fast-paced soccer ensued, as Saugus was forced to withstand the Vikings’ relentless attack.

“Everyone was freaking out,” said Centurions senior midfielder Emily Relles. “The adrenaline was crazy. Natalie was stressed. I think we did a good job of staying calm and that helped a lot, even though we were screaming inside.”

Cued by the game’s final whistle, those screams became audible as Saugus celebrated the league title that eluded it last season.

For Valencia, the consolation is a guaranteed spot in the postseason.

And after Thursday’s effort, that’s fine with O’Connell.

“They couldn’t give any more than they gave, and as a coach, that’s all you can as for,” he said.

 

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