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Foothill League girls soccer: Saugus ties, but gets help

Cents girls now winless in last three, but still in first

Posted: February 8, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 8, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

After playing an emotionally charged match earlier in the league season, the sequel between the Saugus and West Ranch girls soccer teams lived up to the original.

With Saugus fighting to stay at the top of the league standings, and West Ranch trying to keep pace for the final automatic playoff spot, the two squads fought to the end in a 1-1 draw on Tuesday afternoon at West Ranch High.

The Centurions (18-3-3, 6-1-2) won the first meeting 2-1.

On Tuesday, they struck first on a goal from freshman Avery Schulhofer.

Kaylie Fisher sent a long pass to Schulhofer down the middle of the field where she beat the Wildcats’ defenders and scored the game’s opening goal with 31 minutes to play in the second half.

“I think the goal gave us momentum,” Schulhofer said. “But we’ve got to stick together and play possession.”

But Saugus broke down minutes later as West Ranch (10-4-5, 2-3-4) immediately struck back.

Carlee Utvich, who was brought up from the JV team before the Wildcats 2-2 draw with Canyon on Friday, outraced two defenders into the box and struck to the bottom right for the equalizer one minute later.

“We just weren’t organized after that (first goal),” said Saugus head coach Natalie Helgeson. “You score and you’ve got to play smart for the next five minutes.”

With the game level, Saugus pushed up an extra forward late in the half looking for the win.

But the West Ranch backline held strong down the stretch.

West Ranch managed seven shots on goal to Saugus’ six, and the Wildcats outshot the Centurions 15-10.

With 11:55 remaining in the match, Utvich nearly notched her second goal of the match when she entered the right side of the box with just the goalie to beat.

But Saugus goalkeeper Madi Hebert laid out to make the save and help preserve the tie.

It was the best chance for either team to score in the second half of a game that featured two high-quality defenses.

While the draw might mean one point for each side in the standings, the implications of the day mean two very different things for the two teams.

Saugus, which is winless in three straight matches for the first time since the start of the 2010-11 season, holds a slim one-point lead over Hart for the league title.

Because Hart lost to Valencia 2-1 on Tuesday, Saugus can clinch its third straight league title with a win against Golden Valley on Thursday.

The Wildcats, on the other hand, sit three points behind Valencia for third place — and the final automatic playoff spot in the CIF-Southern Section Division I playoffs.

West Ranch hosts Valencia on Thursday at West Ranch at 3:15, and a Wildcats’ victory would mean the third place team is decided by a tiebreaker.

“That’s all you can ask for (is a chance to earn a playoff spot),” said West Ranch head coach Jared White. “We’re happy with the result, for once we were able to close out each half.”

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