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The difference a day makes

Saugus turns positives from previous day’s loss into a winning effort

Posted: December 19, 2008 9:38 p.m.
Updated: December 20, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Centurion Timo Ros (15) kicks the ball up towards midfield against Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks at Saugus on Friday. The Centurions won 3-1 behind Erick Esquivel's two goals.

 
When Saugus took a lead against Pacifica Thursday, the advantage didn’t last long.

When Saugus took a lead against Notre Dame one day later, the Centurions made sure they stayed ahead.

Erick Esquivel scored two goals and Manuel Garza had a goal and an assist as Saugus put together its most complete effort of the season in a 3-1 victory over Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks.

Garza set up Esquivel’s first goal by serving a great ball from the right flank, which Esquivel took and rocketed over Knights goalie Nicholas Hanulik, who was indecisive in coming off his line.

Esquivel broke through the middle of the Notre Dame defense again shortly before halftime and planted a stinging shot in the lower-left corner to give Saugus a 2-0 lead.

“I think we played well today,” said Saugus head coach Seth Groller. “We still have a lot of room for improvement, but we did play a lot better today. I was glad to see the way that they played better with the lead.”

One of those improvements could involve second-half play.

The Centurions (2-6-1) came out flat after halftime and paid for it quickly. After a series of ineffective clearances by Saugus, Notre Dame midfielder Omar Lopez gained possession and took a couple touches before slotting a shot into the net less than a minute into the second half.

On the whole, the creativity of Saugus’ offense stagnated, although Esquivel nearly missed a hat trick a few minutes after Notre Dame’s goal when he sent a screamer wide of the net.

“We had a couple other shots in the second half that hit the post,” Groller said. “We were doing a much better job today of finishing balls and all that.”

Saugus finished when it counted most late in the game. With 11 minutes remaining, Jake Terry lofted a throw into the box and Amir Ranjbar-Shiraz’s knocked a header past Hanulik to put the game out of reach.

The Centurions fell to Pacifica 2-1 on Thursday despite scoring first. They weren’t about to let it happen again.

“(Thursday) we played well and we wanted a win,” Esquivel said. “We just didn’t get the result we wanted, and today we did.”

The cold, windy conditions hampered both teams throughout the match, so Saugus took few chances through the air.

“We just tried to keep it on the ground, play it safe,” Esquivel said.

Saugus keeper Blake Reynolds preserved the lead midway through the second half when he made a diving save on a turnaround shot by Notre Dame in the Saugus box.

The Centurions will now have six days off before participating in the Hart Soccer Showcase, which offers them an opportunity to keep the momentum going.

“Notre Dame’s a good team, so to get a 3-1 win against them is a good sign for where we’re going,” Groller said.

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