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Saugus Runs Out of Scores

Posted: February 21, 2008 1:20 a.m.
Updated: April 23, 2008 5:04 a.m.
 
In the end, it all came down good goalkeeping and nerves of steel.

And in the final two plays Wednesday in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs it was the Laguna Hills girls soccer team, on its home field, that had the edge in both departments over the Saugus.

But just barely.

After 80 minutes of regulation, 40 minutes of overtime and seven rounds of penalty kicks on Wednesday, it is the Hawks who will be headed to the quarterfinals, getting a 1-0 win over the Centurions.

It's a best-of-five situation in shoot-outs, and if the teams are still tied at that point, it goes one-on-one until someone misses.

"Be calm. You can't freak out, that just makes it worse," said Laguna Hills goalkeeper Jessica Meyer, who made several spectacular saves to keep her team in the game including two in shoot-outs. "Calm down and remember what you have to do."

Both Saugus and Laguna Hills missed once in its first five attempts. In the sixth round, the Centurions' Ashley Dale's attempt went high and Laguna Hills' Jacqueline Rivas' shot was stopped by Saugus goalkeeper Marina Constantinou.

In the seventh round, Meyer dove to her left to stop Heather Pilch's penalty kick.

Hawks junior defender Brooke Keys stepped into the penalty box and calmly drove a shot low and to the left of Constantinou and into the corner of the net, giving her team the win.

"It's a tough way to end the year," said Saugus head coach Lisa Rollo. "I thought this was the team that would go all the way."

She wasn't the only one.

The Centurions (17-3-4) won the first outright Foothill League title in school history this season and earned the No. 2 seed heading into playoffs.

They coasted to a 6-0 win in the first round.

Saugus came out looking like it did in its first-round game, putting relentless pressure on the Hawks (14-5-6). Jamie Molacek took a hard shot at the edge of the penalty box in the first minute.

Meyer made seven saves in the first half, nearly all of them in impressive fashion.

When she wasn't there to make the save, her defense was, making three clearances on the goal line, shots that were inches away from being Saugus scores.

The Hawks failed to get off a legitimate shot on goal.

It seemed like it would only be a matter of time for the Centurions. But in the second half, both teams looked different.

Saugus' defense, a unit that allowed just two goals in its last 10 games, looked uncharacteristically sloppy and disorganized.

"We went to a man marking and played up and over their defense," said Laguna Hills head coach Stacia Pollock. "We just tried to give it to our forwards because our forwards have a lot of speed. We dominated their defense a little bit."

Still, it didn't matter.

Constantinou made three big saves but saw a few other shots get dangerously close.

The biggest threat came when Hawks midfielder Libby Moyer sent a cross into the box and defender Caitlyn Cuasay got a head on it, but the ball trickled just wide.

"First half, we came out to play," Rollo said. "The second half, they came out to play, and all the overtimes were just a battle. I think after halftime our girls got a little too comfortable."

The first overtime was two 10-minute halves, played to the end even if a team scored. Constantinou made three saves in that 20 minutes, while Meyer made one.

Then they played two addition 10-minute sudden-death halves.

Constantinou made one save in the sudden death overtime, while Meyer made two, the last of which came with two minutes left. Dale fired a shot in the box that looked like it caught Meyer slightly off guard and out of position, but she dove to her left to make a tremendous save.

"She's a phenomenal goalkeeper," Rollo said of the junior Meyer. "I didn't start thinking about how good she was until the golden goal (overtime). I went, 'Wait a minute. We don't want to get into penalty kicks with this keeper.' She's probably the best goalie we've faced all year."

The Centurions don't have a too shabby of a goalkeeper either.

"I couldn't have asked for a better season," Constantinou said. "Our record was just a bonus. The girls are what made it memorable."

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