Saugus' Justin Taylor (15) and Jacob Gendein (11) of West Ranch fight for the ball in the first half at West Ranch High School on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Saugus boys soccer capitalizes on West Ranch’s second-half mistakes

In its second Foothill League game, West Ranch boys soccer hosted Saugus at West Ranch on Thursday.

Scoring in the opening minutes of the first half, Jacob Gendein gave the Wildcats the lead on a Ben Rice throw-in.

“Honestly, we know Ben throws,” Gendein said. “He can just about put it anywhere and I was fortunate enough that the defender missed it and I was lucky that I got to it and put us ahead.”

The Wildcats (2-2-2 overall, 0-1-1 in Foothill League) were able to net another goal before the Centurions were able to get on the scoreboard, but couldn’t hold Saugus down the entire game, tying them 2-2.

“The energy was there, the problem was that mentally we broke down twice,” said West Ranch head coach Louis Mogrovejo. “Saugus is known for their set pieces, that’s how they score most of the time. That’s something as players they have to understand and shut that down and stay in the game mentally.”

Holding a 1-0 lead heading into halftime, West Ranch was able to build on its lead, just like at the beginning of the game, scoring in the early minutes of the second half.

Netting his second goal of the game, Gendein gathered a ball in Saugus’ defensive end. Switching the ball over to his right foot, Gendein curved a beautifully struck ball into the side netting past the outstretched hands of the goalie.

A minute later on a free kick, Saugus (3-3-2, 0-1-1) lit up the scoreboard as freshman Connor Claborn’s kick fell inside the penalty box, took a weird bounce and got past the Wildcats goalie.

Sensing a change in momentum, West Ranch tried to keep the Centurions attack at bay by clearing every ball that fell inside its defensive half, sparking numerous counterattacks.

With just under 19 minutes to go in the game, Saugus lined up for yet another free kick. Senior Frank Ornelas didn’t disappoint, tying the game up with a low line drive to tie the game at 2-2.

“We still had the intensity and sense of urgency at the end of the game,” said Saugus head coach Seth Groller. “Our first goal came one minute after theirs and then Frank’s free-kick was perfectly placed. He’s a big-time player coming up with a big-time play when we needed it. But still, come in back form a tie down 2-0 is huge.”

Down the stretch, both teams would keep up the attacking, but neither team could net a goal ending the game in a 2-2 tie.

Both teams move to 0-1-1 in league play with Saugus picking back up in the Hart Holiday Classic on Thursday against Dos Pueblos while West Ranch has an extended break and will open up play after the new year on Tuesday, Jan. 8 against Valencia.

“The first game we lost and now we tied this one,” Claborn said. “It’s a big energy booster and will push us harder to win the next one.”

Canyon 3, Golden Valley 1

The Cowboys improve to 2-0 in Foothill League play after Drew Laskin’s hat trick to take down the Grizzlies who are still vying for their first league win.

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