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Hello final four

Centurions girls soccer reach Division II semifinals

Posted: February 27, 2009 1:26 a.m.
Updated: February 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Saugus' Erin Ortega (7) heads the soccer ball as Crescenta Valley's Brittany Berger battles for it Thursday at Saugus High in the CIF-SS Division II quarterfinals.

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Saugus girls soccer advanced in the CIF-Southern Section Division II bracket Thursday with a 1-0 victory at home over Crescenta Valley to earn a spot in the semifinals.

The Centurions (19-3-4) controlled possession for most of the game and had several solid scoring opportunities in the first half.

“We knew we had to play our best to beat this team,” said senior captain Erin Ortega. “We worked hard to make the most of our touches, and I’m proud of how we played and this team.”

Saugus’ first near score came in the 14th minute when Shasta Fisher nearly scored on a put back, but the ball sailed just wide of the goal.

A flurry of Saugus attempts followed, but the Cents were unable to convert any of their opportunities.

Nicole Penick nearly notched the game’s first goal with a shot from the right side in the 30th minute, but Falcon goalkeeper Amanda Johnson knocked the attempt away.

However, Saugus was resilient, and less than a minute later Ortega knocked home a throw-in to break the scoreless tie.

“We were focused on keeping our intensity up,” said Saugus head coach Lisa Rollo. “We were focused out there today, and we played as a we instead of a me.”

Saugus nearly had a pair of goals in the 43rd minute when a shot from Jamie Molacek was blocked and an attempted put back from Penick just missed the goal.

Ysabel Padron also had a chance to add to the Saugus lead, but her shot in the 58th was tipped over the crossbar by Johnson.

“Amanda is a class-act goalie,” said Crescenta Valley head coach Reggie Rivas. “She kept us in the game today because they had their fair share of chances.”

Crescenta Valley’s best chance came in the 60th minute when Jordan Royer broke free for an open shot, but Saugus goalkeeper Bianca Lorenz made an acrobatic save.

“We’re getting closer to the top,” Padron said. “We didn’t give up on anything today. Our defense was strong and so was our offense.”

On Dec. 5, Saugus and Crescenta Valley tied 1-1. Rollo saw her team’s evolution as a main reason the Cents are moving on.

“We have a different starting lineup than when we played them before,” Rollo said. “We had to figure out which combinations worked best for us. I think we’re more relaxed and more focused at this point in the season.”

Crescenta Valley’s final chance came on a throw-in during stoppage time, but Saugus quickly cleared the ball to seal the win.

“It was a fun game overall,” Rivas said. “We didn’t capitalize on our chances, and they have an athletic well-coached team that is very skilled.”

The loss ends the season for the Pacific League champions.

Saugus is slated to take on the winner of Corona Del Mar and Redlands on Tuesday.

“If we can stay focused and keep playing like this we know we can keep moving forward,” Ortega said. “This team has really come together and getting this deep into the playoffs is what we’ve been training for.”

kdamore@the-signal.com

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