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A quick realization: Saugus ousted from postseason

It takes Coachella Valley a minute to begin an assault on the Centurions

Posted: February 26, 2009 1:18 a.m.
Updated: February 26, 2009 4:57 a.m.

Saugus' Manuel Garza (10) tries to hold off Coachella Valley's Francisco Vazquez (8) during Wednesday's CIF-Southern Section Division III playoff game at Saugus High School.

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Undefeated Coachella Valley boys soccer maintained its perfect season and advanced in the CIF-Southern Section Division III playoffs with a 4-0 win at Saugus Wednesday.

Coachella Valley (23-0-1) didn’t wait long to strike. Ulises Espinoza knocked home a shot less than a minute into the contest.

“It set the tone for us,” said Coachella Valley head coach Adrian Barragan. “When you can score that quick it gives you great momentum, and we were able to hold that momentum.”

Espinoza’s goal was quickly followed by a breakaway score from Miguel Elizalde in the 7th minute.

“They attacked with force from the beginning of the game,” said Saugus head coach Seth Groller. “We knew their record, and we knew they would be fast. They are a very good team.”

Saugus (8-10-7) couldn’t find a way to handle the Arabs’ speed and athleticism, and Coachella Valley controlled the ball through most of the first half.

“We had an edge with our speed, but I think we also played a physical game,” Barragan said. “Our speed allowed us to create angles for better shots and opened up the field.”

The Arabs notched a third goal before the close of the first half when Elizalde knocked a rebound into the net in the 31st minute.

Saugus was also hampered by the fact that captain Manuel Garza was injured in a collision before the intermission, and he was less than 100 percent for the remainder of the game.

“We played with heart,” said Saugus senior D.J. Valladares. “If we can’t win this thing then I hope that they are the team that wins it because they played a great game.”

The second half was primarily a defensive battle, but Enrique Cardenas managed to push one past the Saugus defense in the 59th minute to give the Arabs a 4-0 cushion.

“We started out with five fullbacks to try and contain their speed and scoring ability, but once they got those early goals we had to adjust to try and get back in the game,” Groller said. “We felt like we always had a shot. Even at halftime, down by three goals, our guys thought we had a chance.”

Saugus’ best scoring chance came in the second half when Erick Esquivel booted a shot just wide of the goal in stoppage time, but the miss sealed the Arabs’ shutout.

“We never planned to be 23-0,” Barragan said. “This team has stayed level-headed at all times. Even when we were up 3-0 at the break, we looked at it like it was a tie game because we know this is the playoffs and no lead is safe.”

Up next for Coachella Valley is the winner of the Santa Ana Valley-Rialto game, while Saugus can look back on a season of growth.

“We had a rocky start this year,” Valladares said. “We built a lot of chemistry as a group. At the beginning of the year we were a team, but now we’re a family.”

kdamore@the-signal.com

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