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Saugus finds positives

Late game-winning goal lifts Tritons over Centurions

Posted: December 18, 2008 10:58 p.m.
Updated: December 19, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Centurion Erick Esquivel (19) battles with Triton Edgar Suarez (19) Thursday at Saugus.

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With a young team, Saugus boys soccer head coach Seth Groller is looking for improvement more than wins and losses during their non-league schedule.

If Thursday's match is any indication, his side has come a long way.

It took a late goal by Pacifica's Sigifredo Torres to give the Tritons a 2-1 win over the Centurions at Saugus High School.

"I think this is the best game that we've played," Groller said. "I told my kids it's not about the record, it's about improving every game."

Because Pacifica's attack utilized through-balls to fast, talented strikers, the Centurions (1-6-1) ran the offside trap, a strategy in which the defenders push further up the field than normal to keep opposing strikers behind them and in an offside position.

The trap was mostly successful, but with 10 minutes to go, Torres stayed even with the defenders and took off after a free kick was played over them to convert the game-winner.

"I feel we were expecting the call to go in our favor for offsides, but it didn't, and it hurt us," Groller said.
Given the way Saugus battled, however, the result wasn't a total disappointment.

"We played better than normal," said Saugus defender Timo Ros. "We usually don't play as well as we did. Today we played more as a unit. We finished our chances, and we were just better overall than our other games."

Pacifica controlled possession most the first half, but the Centurions absorbed the blow and scored the game's first goal at the 35-minute mark. Manny Padron collected a ball 30 yards away from the net and launched a left-footed laser into the upper-right corner to give Saugus a 1-0 lead.

"They have a good team," said Pacifica head coach Raul Villegas. "They're really strong and fast. One mistake and any team can win."

The Tritons tied the game 20 seconds before halftime when Raul Yepez took a long clearance and placed a hard shot past Saugus keeper Pierre Diaz from 25 yards out.

Throughout the game, Pacifica countered quickly to catch Saugus off guard, and the Centurions' midfield never really organized.

"I think that our midfield wasn't tracking back as well as they should have, especially in the middle there," Groller said. "We had a few holes."

Diaz made a couple of nice saves before Torres' goal, including a diving one-handed stop off a free kick by Pacifica's Kevin Rincon.

The game became chippy toward the end, with several cards being handed out. But it was also an indication of Saugus' refusal to lie down against a tough opponent.

"It's all about getting out there and getting more and more playing time so we can see how we play with each other," Groller said. "But we had our chances."

Saugus will host Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks at 3:15 p.m. today.


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