Saugus girls soccer goes punch-for-punch with Hart

Saugus senior Emily Barbour and Hart senior Megan Sheehe battles for a ball in a Foothill League matchup between Hart and Saugus at Saugus High School Tuesday afternoon. Cory Rubin for The Signal

Taking on an undefeated Hart team, Saugus girls soccer played with a fire in them from the first whistle. A strong offensive effort in the early stages of the match pushed the Centurions ahead and led to a 2-2 draw once time ran out a Saugus High School Tuesday afternoon. 

Saugus’ offense was led by sophomore forward Alyssa Edwards who scored both goals for the Centurions.

“I’m super proud of the girls, they worked their tails off today,” said Saugus head coach Kevin Miner. “I think it proves to the girls that when we play hard, when we play as a team, when we execute, that they can play with everybody.

Despite Saugus (7-3-4 overall, 2-0-3 in Foothill league) owning the first half, the Indians were the ones to get on the board first. In a clutter of bodies, the Indians punched the ball into the back of the net in the 14th minute. A shot bounced off of Saugus senior goalkeeper Madalynn Moreno’s hip and Hart senior forward Alyssa Irwin punched it in for her only goal of the match.

From then on, the Saugus defense didn’t allow the Indians to make anything of all their offensive looks. Grace Seitz has been a huge part of the Saugus defense all season, but Presley Williams made her name known Tuesday.

“I told her after the game that this might have been her coming out party,” Miner said. “She’s a great defender and she proved it today.”

More: Saugus boys basketball comes out on fire against Hart; Vikings roll

On multiple occasions, she was able to disrupt the Hart attack. On one occasion a pass was made to Irwin that would create a one-on-one situation between her and Moreno. Williams utilized her speed and awareness to cut the pass off and create an opportunity for her offense.

“I just looked at when they were about to kick it and where their hips were facing,” Williams said. “So, I knew where their pass was going. We tried to make sure we were talking a lot and communicating and getting it up, so they didn’t have an opportunity to shoot.”

The Centurions responded in the 25th minute with a goal of their own. Similar to the first goal, the ball bounced around in a web of bodies. Edwards found some open space and chipped the ball into the goal.

Edwards scored once again in the 33rd minute to put the Centurions up 2-1 before halftime.

Senior midfielder Shaina Berdin delivered a free-kick towards the Hart goal. Hart junior goalkeeper Megan Kelly jumped in front of the ball to knock it away. Edwards saw an opportunity at an empty goal and charged the ball to tap it in for a go-ahead goal.

“I was thinking to go for the rebound in case nobody was there for it so Hart wouldn’t clear it,” Edwards said. “I feel great. I feel like I helped my team out so much.”

The Centurions led the Indians 2-1 at halftime. This was Hart’s first time trailing in league play all season.

The Indians (15-1-3, 4-0-1) played with a full head of steam in the second half. The defense stepped up and regained its identity to shut Saugus out for the rest of the match.

“We knew they were coming at us, so we were able to calm down instead of frantically kicking it out,” said senior defender Jessica Deegan. “We were able to relax and find passes we wanted to find. They made it fun to defend them.”

The offense got back to its old self too. Irwin added to her goal with an assist to senior midfielder Sarah Melvin in the 55th minute. 

Saugus senior goalkeeper Madalynn Moreno makes a diving save against Hart on Tuesday. // Photo courtesy of Stephanie Shrout

Deegan sent a long free-kick high and to the center of the penalty box. Irwin jumped up and flicked it back with her head. Melvin took the opportunity to charge the ball and drive it past Saugus junior goalkeeper Avery Wilson with a header of her own.

“Just right away you feel the adrenaline rushing because its amazing,” Melvin said. “To tie it up, to secure us to not lose, it really felt good and made a difference in the game.”

Hart kept the Centurions on their heels for the rest of the match, but the defense prevailed to preserve the 2-2 draw. Hart had three separate opportunities to break the tie, but excellent goalkeeping by Wilson kept Saugus alive. Twice she was able to stay in front of hard shots. The final shot was a free-kick that went over the goal just seconds before the final whistle.

“I was pleased with our response in the second half,” said Hart head coach Guilherme Mitrovitch. “I was really interested to see how we were going to respond, because it hasn’t happened a lot, we’re down at half. In the second half, we matched their energy. You’ve got to give Saugus credit because they were ready for it.”

Both teams return to the pitch on Thursday. Saugus will travel to Valencia at 5 p.m. for a rematch against the Vikings that ended in a draw last time. The Indians will travel to Golden Valley against a Grizzlies team that has improved a lot over the last five games. That game will be at 3:15 p.m.

Valencia 0, Canyon 0

The Vikings (4-6-4 overall, 0-2-3 league) have yet to collect their first league win after tying with the Cowboys (1-6-3, 1-2-2) Tuesday night.

For the Cowboys, Sara Johnston and Emily Guluzza played a stout defense. They managed to deny the Vikings whenever they created opportunities to score. However, the Cowboys struggled to take advantage of their own opportunities.

For the Vikings, the Victorio sisters, Jackie and Jessica played solid up front despite a scoreless endeavor. Isabelle Goralsky and Cory Greer were other key parts of Valencia’s attack today.

Both teams return to the pitch on Thursday. Valencia will host Saugus at who is hot off of their tie with Hart at 5 p.m. Canyon will head to West Ranch who just dominated in an 8-1 win at 3:15 p.m.

West Ranch 8, Golden Valley 1 

The Wildcats (8-7-2 overall, 2-2-1 league) scored in bunches to cool off a Golden Valley team that has been improving as the year continues.

The first goal of the game was an own goal. The Wildcats were able to spread the ball around with many different players scoring in the points parade. Among them, Lizeth Gutierrez was a standout player, scoring two goals. 

Mariah Garcia was the lone scorer for the Grizzlies (4-6-3, 0-3-2).

Both teams play again on Thursday. Golden Valley will host Hart at 3:15 p.m. and West Ranch will host Canyon at the same time.

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