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Foothill League girls soccer: Cents plot their course

Saugus continues league the way it ended last year

Posted: January 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.

The Saugus girls soccer team knows winning a third straight Foothill League title will be no easy task.

But in the Foothill League opener for the Centurions and Canyon on Tuesday at Canyon High School, Saugus made things a little easier for itself.

The Centurions back line lived up to its preleague hype, allowing the Cowboys just one shot on goal en route to a 2-0 victory in the league opener for both teams.

Saugus (13-2-1) jumped out to an early lead when the Cowboys tried to clear the ball out of the box, but the Centurions were able to hold the ball in before it deflected to the feet of Alana Shaw.

Shaw sent the ball out of the air from 18 yards out and beat Canyon goalkeeper Meghan Kennedy top right for a 1-0 lead six minutes into the contest.

And it would seem taking a quick 1-0 lead was exactly what the Centurions would have hoped for.

But then again — maybe not.

“Sometimes it can be a double-edged sword,” said Saugus head coach Natalie Helgeson of teams becoming complacent after taking an early lead. “It was a very dangerous score to have. I’ve had games that you score in the first 30 seconds and the other team equalizes quickly.”

It was clear Saugus wasn’t about to relax, though, as it continued to push the attack and nearly scored the game’s second goal minutes later when Shaw sent a pass into the box that was just out of the reach of teammate Maddie Reinsma.

But in the 23rd minute, the Centurions were able to find the back of the net again.

Stacy Atwater sent the ball ahead to Avery Schulhofer who beat the defender down the right side of the penalty box and chipped the ball in for a 2-0 lead.

Despite the offense’s early production, it was the defense of Saugus that was most impressive.

Goalkeeper Madi Hebert faced just one shot on goal in the game, but made a beautiful save when a ball deflected off of her and to the feet of Canyon’s Alissa Mungia.

Mungia tried to kick the ball over the prone Hebert, but the sophomore rose to her feet just in time to make the save before Canyon kicked the ensuing rebound over the touch line for a goal kick.

“(Hebert’s) extraordinarily focused for such a young kid,” Helgeson said. “You want to bottle that and sell it. Even though she didn’t have many opportunities, she’s never going to lose focus.”

And those qualities extend to the entire Centurion back line.

Led by senior Serena Smith-Banas, Saugus seemed to be first to the ball and held strong when Canyon would try to advance into the attacking zone.

“Confidence in your defenders, every team should build with that,” Helgeson said. “They transition well, they get back ... we have faith in our defense.”

For Canyon, head coach Andy Pringle felt like his team failed to play up to its potential.

“They were a little intimidated for two reasons,” he said. “Playing the first game of league against the team that went 10-0 (last season) ... I could feel something wasn’t right today (before the match). We were never in it, simple as that.

“I felt we didn’t play at all to our strengths and didn’t test their back four.”

Canyon will try to play up to its potential in its next match when it travels to play Valencia on Friday at 5 p.m.

Saugus will host Hart on Friday at 3:15 p.m.


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