A freshman or junior varsity Saugus High boys soccer player laid an onus on the varsity team Tuesday morning.
“I’m going for an Icee. When I get back, I expect the scoreboard to be lit up,” he hollered as the Centurions prepared to face a one-win Lancaster High team at home.
If it took any time at all to retrieve the cold treat, Saugus’ varsity met the challenge.
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The Cents led by three at halftime and coasted to a 6-0 win behind James Johnson’s four goals and an assist.
“That’s what we talked about: starting the game strong and setting the tone early,” said Saugus coach Seth Groller.
The Cents (6-3-3) obviously listened.
In the 11th minute, forward Josh De Leon threaded a pass to a streaking Johnson, who sidestepped the Eagles keeper and shot the ball past a straggling defender for a 1-0 lead.
“Capitalizing on their mistakes was the biggest thing for us,” Johnson said, “and getting out on the counterattacks.”
Saugus never let up.
The Centurions took 21 first-half shots (seven on goal). Lancaster took no shots at all before the break.
De Leon assisted Johnson on another goal in the 21st minute, and Johnson capped a first-half hat trick five minutes later.
He added another score late.
That makes 12 goals through 12 games for the senior forward, whose team has gone unbeaten in eight of its last nine outings.
“I feel like we are coming together just at the right time,” said Groller, who led the Centurions to their first CIF-Southern Section quarterfinal appearance since 2007 last season.
Frank Ornelas and Christian Arguello both scored in the second half to make it 5-0 Saugus.
Then Johnson set the final score by drawing a foul in Lancaster’s 18-yard box and drilling the ensuing penalty kick.
It was all more than the Cents needed, as they played rock-solid defense in the midfield and defensive third all game.
It was Saugus’ third shutout of the year.
“I told them that’s what every single game should be like,” Groller said. “We have had very good halves and had some good games. But I felt like this was a good hardworking team effort all the way through.”