Thursday was a hard day for Saugus High boys soccer.
It was hard for the Centurions to score in a 6-1 loss to Citrus Hill on the road in Perris during a CIF SoCal Regional Division 4 semifinal. It was hard for Saugus to conjure up energy in its seventh postseason game.
And it was hard not to be proud of its historic, breathtaking, nail-biting postseason run.
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The Cents used up nine lives and then some, finally falling for good against their bracket’s No. 1 seed.
“That’s what we talked about after the game,” said Saugus coach Seth Groller. “This game does not define us. This is not who we were the entire season. We just came out and weren’t playing our game. It was a heck of a run.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean Saugus’ most lopsided loss of the season didn’t sting.
“We can handle losses,” Groller said. “But this was something where we weren’t ourselves today. That’s the part of it that really hurts.”
Citrus Hill (23-4-2), the Southern Section’s Division 5 champion, led 3-0 at halftime before James Johnson scored in the 55th minute to put Saugus (18-8-4) on the board.
It was Johnson’s 28th goal of the season, two short of tying the program’s single-season record.
More importantly, the Cents had life.
“I honestly believed, and told them this, that we could come back and at least tie the score,” Groller said.
But the Hawks scored again in the 65th minute to all but seal a berth in Saturday’s CIF SoCal Regional final, before tacking on two more late goals.
Saugus would have been the second team from the Santa Clarita Valley to ever make it to a regional final.
It already became the first team in program history to make a CIF final on March 3, when it lost 2-0 to Bellflower.
Aside from the two losses, though, Saugus thrilled. The Centurions won their sectional quarterfinal and semifinal games in double overtime.
They won Tuesday’s regional opener in penalty kicks.
“The fact that we even made it into this part of the tournament is a huge accomplishment,” Groller said, “to make the CIF game was a huge accomplishment. We’ve had a great season. There’s a lot to be proud.”