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Foothill girls soccer: No separation

Vikings, Cents start off with a draw

Posted: January 9, 2013 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 9, 2013 1:55 a.m.

Saugus goalkeeper Maddie Hebert, left, gets help from teammate Alexandria Pico (8) on Tuesday at Saugus High.

 

The Valencia girls soccer had a golden opportunity to start the Foothill League season with a momentum-building win over three-time defending league champion Saugus on Tuesday afternoon at Saugus High in both teams league openers.

The Vikings kept the Centurions on their back foot for nearly 80 minutes, consistently pressuring Saugus’ defenders and goalkeeper Maddie Hebert.

But Valencia couldn’t break through, despite golden scoring chances late in an eventual 0-0 draw.

The two teams enter league play as likely title contenders.

“As much as we deserved to win, they deserved the point they got,” said Valencia head coach Sean O’Connell. “I’m still shaking my head. I don’t know how they did it, but they did.”

How Saugus (15-0-1 overall, 0-0-1 Foothill League) escaped with a point came down to sweeper Alana Shaw, goalkeeper Maddie Hebert and the rest of the defensive backline.

“They defend like crazy people,” O’Connell said. “You have to give credit ... they are throwing bodies, kicking, scratching and clawing their way to a draw.”

The Vikings (7-1-4, 0-0-1) did let a couple high-quality scoring chances slip through their grasp,

Taylor Venegas split two Saugus defenders and took a shot from mere feet in front of Hebert that went high over the crossbar in the 75th minute.

Just over two minutes later, the Vikings’ Eryn Spencer took an ambitious shot from well outside the 18-yard box that bounced in front of Hebert, who miss timed her diving attempt, and bounced over the crossbar.

The Vikings had numerous other chances throughout the game, but Hebert proved a stalwart in net, coming off her line and laying out to gain possession.

“Had we had another keeper in there, I don’t think it would have been 0-0,” said Saugus head coach Natalie Helgeson. “The defense did a great job, but our goalkeeper kept us in the game.”

Both teams must now regroup, with the Vikings traveling to Golden Valley, and Saugus heading to Hart, both on Friday at 3:15 p.m.

“We had this on our calendar. We felt this was a momentum shifting game and would set the tone for league,” O’Connell said. “And it still will. We have to see who blinks and we’ll get (Saugus) at our home on Jan. 28 under the lights.”

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