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Cents break ground

Saugus boys soccer remains undefeated in league play

Posted: January 23, 2009 11:12 p.m.
Updated: January 24, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Three games into the Foothill League boys soccer season, the Saugus Centurions had yet to hold a lead in a Foothill League soccer game - yet they were undefeated in league play.

In their fourth game, the Centurions finally took a lead and maintained their undefeated record by winning their first league game 3-2 over Canyon at Saugus High on Friday afternoon.

"We haven't had a lead yet in Foothill League play so getting our first lead and holding onto it was nice," said Saugus head coach Seth Groller.

The Centurions (4-8-5, 1-0-3) opened the game with multiple offensive chances but didn't break through until about midway through the first half.

Saugus finally took its first lead of the league season at the 22:20 mark when Manuel Garza beat the Canyon goalkeeper after Garza made a nifty play to break free from the defense.

Just over 10 minutes later, the Centurions stretched their lead to two when Matt Sanders found the back of the net off a rebound of teammate Erick Esquivel's shot.

The two-goal deficit was also the largest the Cowboys (2-4-2, 3-1-0) had faced all year.

"Coming in we knew we were playing the team on top and the big thing I focused on was having a lot of intensity and I think we did that," Groller said.

Canyon scored just one minute before the half to cut the lead in half, but Saugus responded quickly in the second half.

At the 41:23 mark of the game, Esquivel finally got his shot to find the back of the net in another defensive breakdown for Canyon.

"They came in and wanted it more. They out-hustled us and out-muscled us," said Canyon head coach Khris Savage. "They knew what they had to do and we knew what we had to do and we didn't execute."

More chances came and went for both sides before the Cowboys were given a golden opportunity to break back into the game.

At 72:55, Jared Jens missed a penalty kick, scooting the ball wide left and leaving the Centurions up by two goals. That miss would turn out to be the difference between a tie and a loss for Canyon when the Cowboys scored with less than a minute left in the game but couldn't muster anymore attacks.

"That missed penalty kick," Savage said when asked what the difference was in the game. "Unfortunately, this whole season we've struggled with penalty kicks. They have cost us a few games."

For Saugus, however, it will take its first win of the season, and pull into second place with its undefeated league record.

"We played well enough to win before," Groller said in reference to his team's past three games. "But by beating a team that was undefeated, it makes a statement to my team and to other teams that we can win."


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