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League title picture blurs

Scoreless draw leads to three-team tie atop Foothill League standings

Posted: January 30, 2009 10:59 p.m.
Updated: January 31, 2009 4:58 a.m.

Saugus' Brittanie Sakajian (10) challenges for the ball as Valencia's Alyson Drake shields her during Friday night's game at Valencia High School.

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Call it a logjam.

Tied for first place in the Foothill League, Saugus and Valencia girls soccer ended their game knotted at 0-0 Friday night at Dr. Paul A. Priesz Stadium.

Coupled with Canyon’s 4-0 win over West Ranch earlier in the afternoon, there is now a three-way tie atop the league standings, while Hart nips at everyone’s heels.

“It is unfortunate because we feel like we played really hard today,” said Saugus head coach Lisa Rollo. “We just couldn’t get it in the net. We would have definitely liked to walk away in first place right now, but it is what is. We have our work cut out for us the next four games. We’ll have to win out.”

The Vikings (12-6-2, 4-1-1) and goalkeeper Kaci McCain withstood the Centurions’ onslaught.

Saugus (12-2-4, 4-1-1) recorded 16 shots on goal to Valencia’s three.

Stepping in for Christianne Cordero, who was out of town due to a recruiting trip to East Carolina University, the sophomore keeper came out on set pieces, knocking down whatever was in her way.

McCain’s play undoubtedly saved the game for the Vikings and gave them a share of first place.

“Kaci stepped up huge,” said Valencia head coach Sean O’Connell. “We know that Kaci is a really phenomenal talent. She is an (Olympic Development Program) alternate. She is a very physically talented player. ... That’s the future. Her junior and senior year, that is her team.”

Saugus opened the game on fire, attacking with full force.

Diving saves and outstretched arms were all that prevented the Centurions from opening up the scoring early.

There is no question that the Centurions were playing with something to prove after their 4-2 loss to Valencia back on Jan. 13.

“No team has ever gotten to us the way they did last time. We played them and we just wanted them to know that (we are not the team) that they played,” Rollo said. “We wanted to show them just who we are.”

Valencia got its opportunities in transition but was unable to break the Saugus back line of juniors Shasta Fisher, Heather Pilch, Emily Relles and sophomore Colleen Ortega.

However, the half ended on a scary note for the Vikings when junior striker Nicollette Smith went down with an injury.

According to O’Connell, Smith reinjured her anterior cruciate ligament — the same knee she had reconstructive surgery on last season — jumping for the ball.

The second half saw more of the same aggressive play with an accelerated Valencia tempo.

Still unable to get on the board, each team had their share of close calls.

In the final eight minutes, the Centurions had a flurry of opportunities right in front of the net, but could not get the ball past McCain.

The Vikings took the ball and went the other way.

Sophomore striker Kristen Bos got a step on the defense inside the 18-yard box and was a second too late as Saugus keeper Bianca Lorenz slid out and knocked the ball away.

“Every game is a war,” O’Connell said. “It is going to come down to who is healthy, who is going to squeak out that 1-0 win and who is going to come to play every game.”

Don’t be surprised if the league champion is not determined until the final games on Feb. 12 when Saugus is at Hart and Valencia hosts Canyon.

Until then, there are three matches that are equally crucial.

Valencia travels to Hart, while Saugus will play West Ranch on Tuesday.


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