When playing a league opponent before league play, there lies two choices.
You can withhold some of your strategy, saving it for the league matchups that will direct the course of postseason play.
Or you can go all in.
Saugus girls soccer coach Aly Drake chose the latter Friday night against Canyon in the Hart Tournament semifinals.
Three different Centurions scored in a 3-0 win over Canyon at College of the Canyons, giving Saugus its second win of the day.
“We played our hand, we definitely did,” Drake said. “But we wanted to win and get to the final of this tournament. That was important to us.”
Saugus will do just that Saturday morning at COC. But it will have to make a similar decision in strategy, as it will be playing another Foothill League counterpart in Hart.
Drake indicated which way the team might sway once again.
“We want to win this whole tournament,” she said. “We’re coming out to play.”
Kathleen Volpei, Breeanna San Lucas and Shaina Berdin provided Saugus’ scoring.
Volpei got the Cents on the board in the first half with a right-to-left line drive from inside the penalty box coming off an assist from Brooke Chambers.
“It’s nice being able to see their formations and everything before league,” Volpei said. “ … There was a lot going on in the corner, so I just found the open space and Brooke came through with the cross.”
San Lucas struck early in the second half, just evading the reach of Canyon goalkeeper Aubrey McKessy.
McKessy had made a highlight-reel save on a similar shot near the center of the top crossbar a few minutes prior to the goal, prompting a look of disbelief from Drake down the sideline toward Canyon coach Derek Rusk.
“We had just seen that beautiful save before, so when she took that shot I thought it was going to be saved again,” Drake said. “But she snuck it in there.”
Saugus’ three goals certainly weren’t an indictment on McKessy, who finished with nine saves.
It had been the fourth game in the last two days for both teams, and McKessy sensed a little exhaustion from Canyon.
“Everybody’s legs were tired and heavy,” McKessy said. “It pumps us up, though, because we’re going to get another shot at them.”
Rusk agreed with her assessment.
“(McKessy) needed a little more help from her defense; people needed to step up more,” he said. “But she had some saves that had Aly yelling to me, ‘That’s not fair!’”
Berdin chipped in the game’s last goal a little over midway into the second half. The sophomore used a right-to-left grounder that nearly stretched across the goalie box before creeping by McKessy.
Saugus picked up a 2-0 win over Liberty earlier in the day, with Volpei collecting a goal in that win as well. Canyon had beaten Granada Hills 3-0 prior to playing Saugus.