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As long as they don’t lose

Centurions have tied all three Foothill League games

Posted: January 20, 2009 10:14 p.m.
Updated: January 21, 2009 4:56 a.m.

Saugus soccer player Manny Padron (13) leaps over Golden Valley's James Schlegel during Tuesday afternoon's game at Saugus High.

 
Saugus is still searching for its first Foothill League win of the season.

In the meantime, the Centurions are making sure they don’t lose, either.

Amir Ranjbar-Shiraz scored twice in a five-minute span in the second half to rally Saugus to a 2-2 draw with Golden Valley Tuesday afternoon at Saugus High School.

It was the Centurions’ third straight tie in league play, and the second straight game they have trailed at halftime. Saugus (3-8-3, 0-0-3) fell behind to West Ranch 1-0 last Friday at halftime and wound up earning a 1-1 draw.

Faced with a 2-0 deficit against the Grizzlies (8-6-2, 1-1-1), Saugus head coach Seth Groller knew just where to find motivation for his team.

“I said it was all mental,” Groller said. “If you play to win those 50/50 balls and play with the intensity we did in the last 15 minutes of the West Ranch game, we can do anything, so being down 2-0 at half, I brought that up again.”

And his team brought its play up again.

Saugus’ Chris Allen heaved a throw into the box with 21 minutes to play and Ranjbar-Shiraz flicked it into the net with his head to cut the lead in half.

“I saw it coming and I threw my head out there to see what would happen,” Ranjbar-Shiraz said.

He struck again with 16:30 left by drilling a diving header off a cross by Anthony Wroblewski, and the Centurions had several more chances that sailed over the net before the match was through.

It took stellar efforts by Golden Valley central defenders Bino Horne and Tim Stanley to hold Saugus to just two goals, as well as keeper Steven Rodriguez.

“We usually get cocky if we’re up, and that’s what happened,” Horne said. “They had the momentum and we were only up by one, and the momentum got them the second goal.”

Saugus came out with more energy and displayed more creativity on offense for most of the game, but it didn’t yield a goal until the second half.

Golden Valley jumped ahead with 10:45 left in the first half after an errant clearance came to the feet of Juan Cardenas 30 yards in front of the net. Cardenas lofted a shot that crossed the line before Saugus keeper Pierre Diaz could punch it out.

A few minutes later, Stanley tossed a ball into the box that James Schlegel knocked into the net.

“We finally got our game going the last 15 minutes of the first half, and that’s when we got our confidence,” said Golden Valley head coach Phil Lopez. “We were lucky enough at the end to move it around enough to hold them back. Thank God the game ended.”

The Centurions’ performance was even more impressive considering they were without leading scorer Erick Esquivel, who missed the game because of an Olympic development tournament.

“Being our leading scorer, it hurts when he’s not there, but we picked up for him,” Groller said. “I tell the team, we don’t have a win and we don’t have a loss. It’s three points and it’s a lot to build from.”

jgulino@the-signal.com

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