The Saugus girls soccer team returned to the postseason after a five-year playoff drought. Cory Rubin/The Signal

2018-19 Saugus Year in Review

For the Saugus High School athletics program, the past year was about getting back to the playoffs.

The girls and boys soccer teams and the baseball team all returned to the postseason after missing out the year prior.

For the girls soccer team, the playoffs had eluded them the past five years. Under the guidance of first-year varsity coach Kevin Miner and with the help of six starting seniors, the Centurions were able to finish in third place in the Foothill League and make their way back to the postseason.

Saugus finished with a 14-5-6 overall record and 5-3-2 league record.

“This team has put the Saugus soccer program back on the map. We hadn’t made the playoffs in a long time,” Miner said after the conclusion of the league season. “People I think didn’t fear us when they stepped onto the field and now that’s different. They know when they step onto the field with us it’s going to be a battle and they are going to have to play a full 80 minutes in order to beat us.”

Saugus lost 2-0 in the first round to the eventual champion Sunny Hills, but the returning contingent of players now has playoff experience under their belts.

While the six graduating seniors will leave a large void, Miner is excited about the future of the program.

“The seniors, they are a big loss to us, but we have a good core of returning players that I’m very excited about,” he said. “Now they had a taste of the playoff experience and I’m sure they are going to be very, very hungry to get us back here next year. I’m proud of the girls. It was a great season, my first season. A lot of great memories.”

The boys soccer team missed out on the playoffs last year after finishing 8-7-7 overall and 2-4-4 in league. This season, the Centurions finished with an 11-8-4 overall record 5-3-2 in league, which slotted them in third place.

Saugus lost 1-0 in overtime against Santa Fe in the opening round, but like their counterparts on the girls team, the boys squad returns a bevy of talented underclassmen who will continue to carry the torch.

“Most of the players on the team haven’t played a playoff game. We have a lot of young players on the team which is really special for them and I’ve never played a playoff game either, so it was really cool,” said All-SCV boys soccer Player of the Year Dylan Sullivan after the playoff match. “For us to make it there it was really nice, even if it was just the one game.”

For Carl Grissom, who entered his second season as the baseball team’s head coach, this year was about getting his squad back to the postseason.

It had been three frustrating playoff-less years for the Saugus baseball team, and under the guidance of Grissom and with the help of a solid core group of players, the Centurions were able to make it back to the postseason.

The third-place finisher in the Foothill League, Saugus won a CIF-Southern Section Division 3 wildcard game and its first-round game against the top-seed Paraclete before losing 3-2 to Serra in the second round. Both victories came in extra innings.

“This is new for everybody, so we’re just going at it,” Grissom said after the game against Paraclete. “We play in the Foothill League. We’re battling every game.”

Female Athlete of the Year (as selected by the school)

Gracie Keene

Keene had an incredible sophomore campaign leading her team in most offensive categories including runs (27), RBIs (35) and home runs (8). Her RBI and home run totals were also first in the Foothill League. Keene logged 34 hits, maintained a .415 batting average and had a .542 on base percentage. She also led her team with 171 putouts and led the league with a .994 fielding percentage.

Male Athlete of the Year (as selected by the school)

Justin Morsch

Morsch ends his Saugus swimming career as the back-to-back Foothill League champ in the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle. As consistent a swimmer as any, Morsch advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 Finals, finishing ninth in the 100-yard freestyle and 16th in the 200-yard freestyle. The University of California, San Diego commit made the trip to the State Meet in both races for the first time and tied for 11th place in the 100-yard freestyle.

Five most memorable teams

Girls basketball

It was quite the season for the girls basketball team as Saugus lost only three regular season games, two of which came by way of the Valencia Vikings who were undefeated in league. The Centurions manufactured a nine-game winning streak and an eight-game winning streak in the middle of the season. They finished the year 25-4 overall and 8-2 in league. Saugus won its opening CIF-SS Division 2A playoff game against Newbury Park in dramatic fashion. Trailing by three points with 16 seconds remaining, starting point guard Monique Febles secured an offensive rebound, scored while getting fouled and hit the free throw to tie the game. She then intercepted a pass and made the game-winning layup with one second remaining. Saugus lost to Palos Verdes 38-35 in the second round.

Girls track and field

The girls track and field team had its sights set on its first league title since 2015, and it accomplished that feat behind a strong and deep group. From the sprinters to jumpers to distance runners and throwers, Saugus was stacked in every discipline, leading to an undefeated 5-0 finish in league. Additionally, the Centurions will return most of its athletes next year, setting themselves up for another strong season. Freshman Kylee Davis represented Saugus at the CIF-SS Masters Meet in the high jump.

Girls soccer

A five-year playoff drought was snapped by the Centurions this year, as first-year varsity head coach Kevin Miner helmed a talented squad that battled in every contest. The Centurions didn’t lose a game in their first 12 matches of the season, going 8-0-4 in that span. They also never lost a game by more than two goals, which only happened once, falling to the eventual Division 2 champions Sunny Hills 2-0 in the first round of the playoffs. With a well-built group returning next year, Saugus is primed to make a deeper playoff run and contend for a league title.

Softball

The Centurions claimed their first league championship since 2016, when they were co-champions with Valencia. Saugus went 20-8 overall and 9-1 in league and had a season-high seven-game winning streak early in the season. Saugus made the Division 1 playoffs, losing 3-1 in the opening round to Buena. The Centurions lose four seniors to graduation, but return a solid core including All-SCV softball Player of the Year Gracie Keene.

Baseball

From offense to defense, pitching to hitting, Saugus was stacked in all assets of the game. The Centurions ended the season 16-12-1 overall and 9-6 in league, finishing in third place. They boasted a talented group of experienced pitchers that kept most games within reach even if the bats weren’t on. Hitting started to pick up as the season progressed and Saugus ended the season on a five-game winning streak. The Centurions carried that streak into the postseason, winning a CIF-SS Division 3 wildcard game against Downey in extra innings. They then defeated the top seed in the CIF-SS Division 3 tournament Paraclete 2-1 in a game that went 11 innings, before falling to Serra 3-2 in the second round.

Five most memorable male athletes

Cole Gallagher

The 6-foot-2 senior quarterback led the Centurions with his consistent arm and deceptive footwork. Gallagher was third in the league with 2,058 passing yards and threw 22 touchdowns to nine interceptions. He also rushed for 178 yards and nine touchdowns, which was tied for third-most in the league. Gallagher was exceptional at spreading the ball around, as eight Centurions finished the season with double-digit receptions. He also was a key member of the baseball team, making 12 appearances on the mound which was second-most on the team. He went 4-0 in 30.1 innings pitched with 26 strikeouts.

Bobby Garcia

Though the Foothill League was stacked with pitching in 2019, Garcia stood out from the crowd because of his consistency, blistering fastball and ability to go the distance. The Cal State Stanislaus commit went 5-2 in nine starts, pitching two complete games with one shut out. Garcia led the Foothill League with a 1.12 ERA and was tied for fifth in strikeouts with 46. The lefty didn’t allow a home run all season and only gave up nine earned runs. Garcia beat the second-place West Ranch Wildcats in both games he pitched against them.

Adrian McIntyre

Whenever McIntyre touched the basketball, something magical seemed to happen. The junior point-forward was the primary facilitator on offense and had an innate ability to get buckets. He led the Foothill League with 22.3 points per game and also logged 9.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He shot 49 percent from the field, and could score from anywhere on the court. McIntyre improved tremendously on defense as well with his quick hands, quick feet and shot-blocking ability.

Dylan Sullivan

The All-SCV boys soccer Player of the Year, Sullivan had the potential to make something special happen every time his feet touched the ball. His elite dribbling skills were unmatched in the league and his offensive abilities were unrivaled, as he scored 20 goals and racked up 12 assists this past season. Sullivan had four multi-goal games including a four-goal performance against West Ranch. He helped Saugus finish third in league and reach the postseason after missing out the previous year.

Chad Waitkus

After the golf season concluded, Waitkus was named the team MVP, finishing fifth overall in the individual standings. His best finish came at the second league meet, where he was tied for second place. Waitkus ends his senior career with a 79 average and will look forward to playing next year at College of the Canyons.

Five most memorable female athletes

Kylee Davis

It’s rare for a freshman to make an immediate impact in the sport of track and field, but Davis did just that, helping the Saugus girls team finish undefeated in league. Davis did a little bit of everything, including the high jump, long jump, the 100-meter and ran in the 4×100 relay races. She took home top finishes in both the high jump and long jump at Foothill League Finals and placed third in the 100-meter. She finished in third at the CIF-SS Division 1 Finals in high jump and advanced to the Masters Meet.

Monique Febles

The starting point guard and leader of the basketball team, Febles was able to control the tempo of the game with her masterful dribbling skills and ability to break a full-court press. Her tenacious defense and aggressive style always gave the Centurions a leg-up on the competition. Febles was adept at driving the lane and finding a cutting teammate or kicking it out for open looks from the perimeter. She averaged 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals per game.

Aubrey Finicle

Finicle led the offensive charge for the soccer team, leading the Centurions in assists with nine and tying the team-high in goals with 12. She also led her team with five game-winning goals, helping lead Saugus to a third-place league finish and back to the playoffs after a five-year absence. A well-rounded forward whose heart and passion was always on display, Finicle will continue her career at the next level at California Lutheran University.

Libbie McMahan

Whether it was on the hardwood or on the field, McMahan gave it her all for the basketball team and softball team this past season. She was a crucial member of the basketball squad, averaging 18 points and two assists per game. Her fearless style of play always kept the crowd involved, as she’d drive the lane, hit a tough shot while getting knocked down and get right back up. In softball, she was fourth on the team in runs (22), fifth on the team in hits (26) and fifth on the team in RBIs (13). She batted .280, launched two home runs and stole two bases while logging 33 putouts.

Kayla Tait

Tait was the engine on the volleyball team, leading the Centurions in kills with 480 and digs with 501. Her 52 aces was second on the team and she played a team-high 97 sets, helping lead Saugus to a playoff berth and a second-place finish in league. The 5-foot-5 outside hitter and setter will continue her athletic career at Doane University in Nebraska.

Playoff teams

Baseball

An eighth-inning walk-off hit from Anthony Ramirez helped Saugus beat Downey 3-2 in a CIF-Southern Section Division 3 wildcard game to start off the playoffs. The Centurions advanced to the next round, where they upset top-seeded Paraclete 2-1 in 11 innings. Saugus ended its playoff run in the second round, falling to Serra of Gardena 3-2. It was Saugus’ first playoff appearance since 2015.

Boys basketball

Saugus was eliminated by Beverly Hills in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA playoffs in a 75-55 loss. The Cents ended the season with a 17-9 overall record and a 7-3 finish in league, which ranked them third in the final Foothill League standings.

Girls basketball

Ending the year with a 25-4 overall record and an 8-2 league record, Saugus started the playoffs on an exciting note with a 45-43 win over Newbury Park. With one second left in the game, Monique Febles scored the game-winning basket to send the Centurions to the second round. Saugus had another close contest in the second round, losing to Palos Verdes 38-35.

Girls cross-country

The Centurions placed fourth overall at the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 Finals, with five of seven runners finishing in the top 35 of all runners. Jacqueline Cascione paced the Cents with a 15th place finish. At the state level, Saugus came in sixth with Julia Pearson leading the way in 12th place.

Boys cross-country

The Saugus boys team made it to the CIF-SS playoffs, continuing a streak it started in 2006. The Centurions finished in 11th place in the Division 2 3-mile race with a team score of 262 and a team time 1:17.32. Their best finisher was Jacob Kaufmann who finished No. 14 with a time of 15:03.9. Nick Serrano came in next at 15:12.4, good for the No. 25 spot.

Football

After tying for second place with Hart and West Ranch in the Foothill League standings, the Centurions advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs. Saugus avenged its 2017 playoff loss to Bishop Diego by beating the Cardinals 38-35 in the first round of the postseason. The Cents were eliminated in the second round after a 32-15 loss to Villa Park.

Boys golf

The Centurions finished second in the Foothill League standings and moved on to the CIF-Southern Section Team Championships. There, Saugus finished fifth to close out the postseason. Jacob Valente was medalist at the tournament, shooting 5-under 67.

Softball

The Centurions lost 3-1 in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs to Buena after winning the Foothill League title. Saugus finished 20-8 overall and 9-1 in league play this season.

Boys soccer

The Cents fell in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs to Santa Fe, but it was a close one. After going scoreless in regulation, Santa Fe scored a goal from 30 yards out for the win.

Girls soccer

Playing under first-year head coach Kevin Miner, Saugus finished third in the Foothill League for a trip to the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs. The Centurions lost to Sunny Hills 2-0 in the first round.

Girls volleyball

The Cents finished second in Foothill League play to advance to the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs. They were swept in the first round by Notre Dame Academy of Los Angeles.

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