Saugus' Dylan Sullivan runs to kick the ball during a home game against Golden Valley on Jan. 24, 2019. The Centurions went on to win 4-0. Erik Luna/The Signal

Saugus boys soccer uses second half to pull away, Hart and Canyon draw

Saugus boys soccer hosted Golden Valley at Saugus for Senior Day on Thursday afternoon.

Both teams matched the other’s intensity in first half with no goals at the end of the first quarter, but the Grizzlies were unable to keep that same intensity for the full 80 minutes of play, falling to the Centurions 4-0.

“I was really pleased how we played the first 40 minutes,” said Golden Valley head coach Ken Claborn. “Our starters did a great job playing our style and we held them scoreless in the first half. That’s a great offensive team so I was very happy about that.”

Seniors Eric Johnson, Josh Richard and Dylan Sullivan combined to score all four goals in the win for Saugus.

“The big thing for us was that they had the ball in our defensive half in the first half way too much and we allowed that by not marking properly,” said Saugus head coach Seth Groller. “We made adjustments and as soon as we received the ball higher by marking up and making sure that they didn’t have easy outs and things opened up.”

Saugus (10-5-4 overall, 4-2-2 in Foothill League) began the game by building their attack down the left flank as Connor Claborn, Aidan Sutherland and Justin Taylor were able to find each other in open space threatening in Golden Valley territory.

Building off the counterattack, the Grizzlies’ Johnny Saavedra was able to put a shot on goal 11 minutes into the game, but Saugus goalkeeper Ryan White was able to make a diving save to his left to keep the game scoreless.

Pushing forward in the last 20 minutes of the half, Saugus’ Sullivan and Devin Infuso put two shots on goal, but Golden Valley’s goalie Roy Garrett was able to secure both shots to keep the game knotted at 0-0 heading into the half.

Making adjustments at intermission, Saugus came out with a renewed sense of urgency in the opening minutes of the second half and took the lead on a free kick as Sullivan crossed the ball into the middle of the penalty box from 25 yards out with Johnson rising and heading in the game’s first goal.

Golden Valley (4-10-3, 1-7) nearly tied the game up five minutes into the second half on a free kick by Saavedra, but White was able to make a fingertip save to push the ball over the crossbar.

With 20 minutes remaining in the game, Richard was able to extend Saugus’ lead after coming off the bench to put the Cents up 2-0.

“The way that Josh Richard came in as a left wing off the bench and scored,” Groller said, “it’s pretty exciting, pretty cool.”

Down the stretch, with the game in hand, Sullivan was able to net his 18th and 19th goals of the season.

Pushing forward with nine minutes left in the game, Sullivan stole the ball just above midfield with a direct line to the goal. With a defender on his back and the Grizzlies keeper rushing out to the edge of the penalty box, Sullivan was able to shake off the Grizzlies’ defender and put the goal in the back of the net.

Four minutes later, Sullivan headed in a corner kick cross for his second goal of the game, sealing the win for Saugus.

“It’s not just senior day, this is an important win for the rest of our season because we have to win out the rest of our games to get into playoffs and a potential league title so it means a lot,” Sullivan said.

The win puts Saugus ahead of Canyon by two points and behind Hart by two points and is still in contention for the Foothill League title, as the two drew to a 1-1 tie later on in the day.

With two games remaining in Foothill League play, both teams are back in action on Tuesday with Golden Valley visiting Valencia and Saugus taking on Canyon at Canyon. Both games have a 5 p.m. start time.

Hart 1, Canyon 1

Edward Quijano scored the goal for the Cowboys and goalkeeper Chase Moynihan recorded six saves in the draw for Canyon.

Hart (11-6-5, 4-0-4) plays West Ranch next and Canyon (6-9-5, 3-2-3) hosts Saugus. Both games start at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

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