Kicking off its season, Saugus girls soccer hosted Santa Barbara at College of the Canyons on Monday.
Coming out with a full head of steam, the Centurions possessed the ball for much of the first half, trying to attack early and often.
Keeping up the aggressive playing style, the Centurions wore the Dons out and netted a goal in both halves to begin the season with a 2-0 win.
“I’m very proud of my girls,” said Saugus head coach Kevin Miner. “We have had minimal practice time with a lot of the girls playing club, so there’s that fine line between how hard you work them for high school. But I felt like they came out, played hard and they worked together as a team. I think we have some work to do to clean some things up, but their effort was awesome. They worked their tails off the entire game.”
Saugus (1-0) midfielders Abbey Negosian, Kaelyn Viger and Shaina Berdin were a step faster and a move quicker to every ball making it hard for the Dons to set up their offense and get anything going.
Saugus’ first scoring opportunity came when defender Grace Seitz made a run down the left flank, crossing the ball into the middle where forward Jazmine Flores was waiting. Flores’ shot sailed just over the crossbar, but invigorated the Cents’ offense.
A couple of minutes later, Saugus midfielder Alana Berens created another scoring opportunity, taking a shot from inside the 18-yard box with the Dons’ goalie getting a hand on it as it rattled off the crossbar.
Just before the half, the Centurions’ offense broke through.
Getting loose on the left flank, Brooke Chambers found herself inside the 18-yard box, faking as she was going to kick the ball with her left foot. Chambers brought the ball back to her right foot and took a shot. The shot was blocked by the Santa Barbara goalie, but the ball ricocheted right onto the feet of Centurions forward Aubrey Finicle who finished the job, giving the Cents the 1-0 lead.
“Honestly, I was just like, ‘Oh I got this, like I can do this,’” Finicle said. “I’m really happy she took the shot because she’s an amazing player and she’s really talented, but I’m happy I was there to finish it.”
Heading into halftime, Saugus led Santa Barbara 1-0.
Coming out more aggressive, Santa Barbara (1-2) stepped up its attacking scheme by pushing more players forward and trying to catch the Centurions’ defenders off guard by getting behind them in space.
Sensing a momentum shift, Miner urged his team to keep pushing to try and secure the win with another goal.
“I told the girls that the next goal is going to be the most important goal especially with Santa Barbara coming out hard and pressing us,” Miner said. “A 1-0 lead going into halftime is not a big lead.”
With under 10 minutes left to play in the game, Saugus found that second goal on a free kick by Berdin.
From about 25 yards out, Berdin connected with a beautiful shot that arched over the Dons’ goalie and into the net to seal the 2-0 win.
“I took a free kick earlier and I thought I should cross it because of the angle, but as soon as I saw the angle that the ball was put at I said, ‘I might as well take the shot,’” Berdin said. “I was lucky enough and it went in.”
The Centurions will look to start a winning streak on Wednesday as they travel to Thousand Oaks to take on the Lancers at 6:15 p.m.