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A coming of age

Saugus High’s Erick Esquivel helped turn around the Centurions’ season

Posted: February 18, 2009 1:17 a.m.
Updated: February 18, 2009 4:57 a.m.
 
The 2008-’09 season has been an evolutionary year for Saugus boys soccer.

And no one may have epitomized the Centurions’ growth more than sophomore forward Erick Esquivel.

After struggling to a 3-8-2 mark before Foothill League play, the Cents ended up finishing second in league.

Just to give an example of how important Esquivel was, he scored one-third of the team’s league goals, playing only seven of 10 games.

Saugus ended up going 4-1-5 in the 10 games.

“He’s really been climbing the ladder for us,” said Saugus head coach Seth Groller. “He has great leadership skills, and he has great skills on the field too.”

Esquivel’s skills led him to a Foothill League leading tie in goals scored with 11.

“I felt like I got a lot of help from the coaching staff,” Esquivel said. “As the year went on we really grew as a team too, and I’m happy to get to play with these guys.”

Saugus wound up being the only team with one loss in the Foothill League, beating league champion Canyon twice.

The Centurions two wins over Canyon were the only losses for the league champs.

“It’s a good sign for us going into the playoffs that we can beat a team like Canyon twice,” Groller said. “As we’ve built on this season we’ve tried to continue to improve, and players like Erick have been huge in our improvement. His knowledge of the game is great, and he’s always in the right spot, but the most important thing is that he makes his teammates better with his passing and ball handling.”

Esquivel worked on his improvement with the Olympic Developmental team during the season.

His play with the club made Esquivel miss two games with the Centurions, but both Groller and Esquivel saw it as a valuable opportunity.

“It was a really good experience to get to play with so many other talented players,” Esquivel said. “It was a chance that I was grateful to have.”

While Esquivel was pleased to have the chance to work with Olympic Development team, he’s still focused on the Foothill League playoffs and helping Saugus move through the playoffs.

“The greatest thing Erick has brought to our team is that he really has a personality that helps build camaraderie,” Groller said. “He’s a great teammate, and he takes the team to a higher level with his attitude. He brings our team chemistry to a different level.”

Groller also sees Esquivel as a potential record setter for the Centurions.

“When you look at his talents, there’s no reason that we shouldn’t be able to think that he may be a record setter,” Groller said. “Our high mark is (24) goals so I think Erick can get to that level.”

Right now, high school records are not yet on Esquivel’s radar.

“It’s great to keep improving,” Esquivel said. “I’m more focused on our team though. It’s a great group of guys that I play with, and I really enjoy spending time with them.”

Esquivel’s personality is a main reason Saugus has improved through out the season.

His attitude has helped build a close knit group.

“He knows the game of soccer,” Groller said. “He’s a hard worker, and he has a phenomenal work ethic.

We wouldn’t be where we are without what Erick has brought to this team.”

Esquivel will look to bring his game to the playoffs when the Centurions will face San Gabriel Valley League champion Paramount on the road.

“That’s been the goal all season,” Esquivel said. “All we wanted to do was make the playoffs, and we made it. We all needed to find a way to communicate, and we did that. Hopefully, we’re able to go far from here.”

Groller sees the Cents and Esquivel’s season as a testament to a team that has grown markedly from the preseason.

“This team has worked really hard,” Groller said. “Erick has made this whole experience more fun for all the guys who are playing out there, He’s a guy that shows you why kids get into soccer. He just makes it look so easy and so fun.”

kdamore@the-signal.com

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