Saugus High’s season didn’t end Tuesday night against Valencia in 2-0 loss that secured a second straight Foothill League boys soccer title for the Vikings and dashed Centurion hopes of a first title since 2008.
Far from it.
Saugus coach Seth Groller said after the game that his team is focused on finishing the regular season strong, securing second place in league and on making another deep CIF postseason push.
“Last year, we were a third-place team entering the playoffs and made it to the quarters and had a really good run,” said Groller, whose squad is tied with Hart for second place at 6-2-1 but holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Indians. “We’re hoping to duplicate that.”
A positive from Tuesday: the atmosphere at Valencia was playoff-like, Groller said, providing the team’s newcomers with an opportunity to acclimate to a higher level of intensity.
Saugus’ veterans, though, know the feel of a postseason game. The Centurions (12-6-4 overall) advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 quarterfinals last year before losing to eventual-champion Godinez of Santa Ana.
It was the Centurions’ first quarterfinal appearance since 2007. They’re hoping not to wait that long again.
A key will be capitalizing on scoring chances, like they have most of the season but didn’t against Valencia.
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“Hopefully we can learn from it,” Groller said. “I feel like in this game we had a lot of balls in the box, a lot of crosses or long throw-ins or whatever, and it’s unlike us to not finish some of those. We’re usually very good offensively in the air in those types of situations.”
Isaac Nua and Tanner Brown are a big part of that. Nua provides “one of the longest throw-ins I’ve ever seen,” Groller said, and Brown might have the Foothill League’s strongest leg, making him a constant threat on free kicks.
Brown scored one free kick from 35 yards out in a league-opening win over Hart on Jan. 10.
“He’s very smart with where he places it,” Groller said, “and he sees where the wall is lined up and obviously has such a great shot.”
Brown is third on the team with four goals, while Josh De Leon is second with 11.
James Johnson continues to lead the way. He’s netted 21 goals.
The school’s single-season record is 30.
Saugus hosts Canyon (0-16-5 overall, 0-8-1 in Foothill) today at 3:15 p.m.
The Foothill League plays its final boys and girls soccer games on Thursday (instead of Friday) to provide a one-day cushion in case of rain. All contests must be completed by Friday, with the playoff brackets to be released on Monday morning. … Hart’s goals Tuesday in a 3-1 win over Golden Valley were scored by Jesus Ocampo, Omar Gonzalez and Dillon Vega. … Thursday’s other matchups are Golden Valley (2-14-3, 1-7-1) at West Ranch (5-8-1, 3-6-0) at 3:15; and Hart (16-5-3, 6-2-1) at Valencia (16-2-3, 9-0-0) at 5 p.m. The Vikings are looking to finish 10-0-0 in league for the first time in program history.