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Foothill League girls soccer: Hart’s halting

Indians rally to end Saugus’ 20-game league unbeaten streak

Posted: February 1, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 1, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Hart High girls soccer players, from left, Allyssa Perez, Hailey Jenkins, Sophia Cortes, Danica Morgan, Jenny Chavez and Kelsey Steck, celebrate after scoring the go-ahead goal against Saugus on Tuesday at Saugus High.

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For 73 minutes on Tuesday, it was a cruel afternoon for the Hart girls soccer team.

The Indians dominated the run of play, but were staring at a one-goal deficit with seven minutes remaining. The opponent was a Saugus team that carried a 20-game Foothill League unbeaten streak into the match.

The Centurions wouldn’t leave with it. Hart’s turmoil turned to triumph.

Thanks to an own goal and a header by freshman Jenny Chavez, Hart stunned the Centurions 2-1 at Saugus High School.
Since Saugus hadn’t given up two goals in a game all season, the final seven minutes looked grim for the Indians (11-3-5, 5-1-1).

That didn’t change their mindset.

“We need to put a goal in,” said Hart’s Kelsey Steck. “You push to the last minute. You go all out and hope for the best.”

The Indians were the more aggressive team from the start, creating chances up front with Chavez and maintaining a strong back line anchored by Steck and Danica Morgan.

Hart finished with nine shots on goal to Saugus’ four.

Saugus (18-3-1, 6-1-0) is still without its leading goal scorer Stacy Atwater and assists leader Monica Allen due to injury, and it struggled to generate offensive chances.

Atwater suffered a broken collarbone on Jan. 20 and Allen is out indefinitely with a knee injury suffered Friday.

After controlling play in the first half, Hart pushed up on a corner kick shortly before halftime in search of the game’s first goal.

The ball was cleared by the Saugus defense, and with Hart’s lone defender playing in the midfield, Centurions striker Alana Shaw found the ball at her feet with lots of room. She dribbled up the field untouched before burying her shot in the bottom left corner of the net with less than a minute to play in the half.

“It was frustrating because we dominated for 39 minutes and we let down for one minute,” Morgan said. “But it gave us perseverance. (Saugus) didn’t deserve that goal and we needed this win.”

The win gives Hart 16 points with three games to play — just two points shy of first-place Saugus.

Morgan wasn’t the only one who felt like the Indians were unlucky to be losing at the break.

“I went into halftime shocked. The soccer gods are smiling on us today,” said Saugus head coach Natalie Helgeson.

With a lead, Saugus played a defensive game predicated on clearing the ball out of the attacking zone.

And that strategy worked well until Hart’s Destinney Duron lined up to take a throw-in on the offensive end with seven minutes to go.

Duron sent the ball flying into a congested 6-yard box, where it tipped into the net off Saugus goalkeeper Madi Hebert’s hands.

Two minutes later, the Centurions gave up a free kick that Morgan sent into the box from 35 yards out.

Chavez found the other end of the kick and headed it past Hebert for the lead.

“I think (the first goal affected us) because we weren’t getting a lot of offensive opportunities,” Helgeson said. “Do you play for the tie or do you push and try to get the win?”

But Helgeson was quick to defend her goalie.

“They outplayed us,” she said. “If it weren’t for Madi and our defenders making plays it could have been a lot worse ... She made one mistake. There are players who make a million mistakes that don’t show up on the scoreboard.”

The victory for Hart bookends the Centurions’ winning streak. Saugus hadn’t lost since Feb. 1, 2010, when the Indians defeated them 2-1 at Hart High.

“Their losing streak is gone, and we took it,” Steck said. “And we deserved it. It wasn’t out of luck, we worked hard.”

Despite the win, Hart will still need help to win a league title. The Indians need Saugus to lose or tie at least one more game while winning out themselves.

“(Hart) deserved this. They were the better team today in this game,” Helgeson said. “They were the better team today.”

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