Before the Saugus boys soccer game against Westlake at Saugus on Tuesday, head coach Seth Groller and assistant coach Joe Madick asked the team for a complete game.
“We asked for a full game, the full 80 minutes,” Groller said. “That’s what we got.”
Moving the ball with fluidity offensively while doing an effective job of neutralizing the visitors’ playmakers, Saugus overwhelmed the Warriors earning their first shutout victory of the season in a 4-0 win.
“Right when they came out of the locker room they were focused,” Groller said. “They knew that playing at home. There’s a lot riding on these games.”
Early on, it was evident that Westlake was trying to create and build their attacks through their center forward. Saugus defenders John Kleinfeld and Mark Beale teamed up to pester the player forcing him to give up the ball or steal the ball and push the tempo upfield.
“He anticipates where they are going, where their next pass is and is right on their center forward and didn’t allow him to do anything,” Groller said of Kleinfeld’s play. “Also he was there making sure we were solid in the back with his communication, speed and soccer IQ.”
The defense held its ground to free up the Saugus (3-2 overall) midfield of Connor Claborn and Alec Fryer to find teammates on runs. In the 12th minute, the Centurions attack broke through as Claborn passed the ball out to Rieghly Burke, who found Josh Truong making an inspired run down the middle of the pitch.
He collected the ball and as the Westlake keeper came off his line, Truong took a shot and scored to put Saugus ahead 1-0.
The Warriors (2-4-1) tried to counter, but the pesky Saugus defense did a good job of keeping Westlake from moving freely in their defensive third, intercepting passes that led to counterattacks.
“We played really well today,” Kleinfeld said. “Playing with Roger (Sandino) in the back, our other center back, we have good chemistry and I’ve played with him before. Being able to pass out of the back is something that we work on in practice, playing out of the back, so that really helps in building it out instead of just losing it in the back.”
Ahead 1-0 to begin the second half, Saugus started to flex its muscles as Dionicio Flores scored two goals less than seven minutes apart from each other.
Taking a shot from the corner of the 18-yard box Flores unleashed a shot in the 53rd minute of play that landed in the side netting. Flores’ second goal came in the 60th minute of play off of a corner kick.
Finding himself all alone on the back post as the ball came soaring towards him, Flores connected with the ball midair to send the ball past the Westlake keeper and into the goal.
“When we are clicking, we have all the opportunities to score, it’s our game to lose,” Flores said. “It’s really kind of like can we make our opportunities.”
With the win almost in hand, Arian Timnak scored a late goal in the 69th minute of play to secure the win and record Saugus’ first shutout of the year.
“We came out here to play and work hard and I feel like it was the movement that gave us the advantage today and finding those players who were making runs,” Groller said after the win. “Obviously, a 4-0 win is a great win, but really it’s about what we saw from the very beginning.”
Saugus picks play up at the SilverLakes Winter Classic at SilverLakes Sports Complex on Friday, Dec. 20th.