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Whatever it takes

Saugus senior is ready to lead her team through the Foothill League gauntlet

Posted: January 10, 2009 10:00 p.m.
Updated: January 10, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Centurion Erin Ortega shifted from her normal position of center midfielder to striker this season. Made in an effort to get more talent on the field, Ortega was willing to do whatever she could for the betterment of the team.

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As Erin Ortega goes, so does Saugus.

In her fourth year on the Centurions' varsity squad, the senior has done whatever it takes for the team to be successful.

It is because of that attitude that she will spend her second consecutive season as a team captain.

"They follow her lead, and that is good because she never lets down," says head coach Lisa Rollo.

And 2009 is no different.

Coming into the season, Ortega was slated to be the team's starting center midfielder, a position she has become accustomed to in high school and club soccer.

Given the team's needs, she was shifted to striker.

"It was weird at first because I didn't really know how to play it," Ortega says. "Center mid is my position and I always played it. But we had really good players sitting on the bench that didn't get to play."

The move allowed Rollo to be more creative with the roster and get people playing time that might not have otherwise.

The benefits were also immediate Ortega.

Her first game at striker, she scored twice.

The move was permanent.

She now enters Foothill League play with eight goals and seven assists.

"I could put Erin anywhere on the field and feel confident," Rollo says. "She would go play stopper or sweeper if needed her to."

What had resulted was a powerful combination of passing and finishing ability that is the product of years of game management unique to the center midfield position.

"She is that forward that when the ball is in the mid, she will come back and help out," Rollo says. "That experience in the mid has really helped her be a better forward."

Coming into her final year with the Centurions, Ortega can already boast a resume laced with achievement.

Her freshman year, she was named to the All-Foothill League second team.

Ortega followed up the performance with consecutive spots on the first team in her sophomore and junior year.

As a junior she was also named the team's most valuable player as the team won the league title.

"She is very well respected by her teammates and other coaches in the league," says Rollo, noting that even when the captain is sick, it seems the rest of the team lets down.

But Ortega knows you cannot let down in this league.

If you want to take the title, you have to play to the best of your ability in every game.

"Every practice we work really hard," Ortega says. "We step out on the field and we all know that we want it. It is going to take a lot of heart to get there. We know that we have the skill and we want it more."

Saugus will get the chance to prove that it can repeat as league champions right off the bat when it meets up with Valencia in the league opener on Tuesday.


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