After an emotional season, the Saugus girls soccer team lost to South Hills of West Covina on the road on Thursday afternoon, 3-1, in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
“It’s a bittersweet ending, but I told the girls, I don’t know if there’s a team out there that’s experienced what we experienced and then to be able to put all that into their hearts and play and be able to go about their business daily after such a tragic things we had to experience,” said coach Kevin Miner, referring to the school shooting that occurred in November.
South Hills (17-4 overall) was able to score two goals in the first half, then another in the second. Miner put freshman Addison McElwee into the game, who instantly provided a spark and was able to score a goal, the first of her varsity career, midway through the second half.
McElwee was called up to varsity from the JV team with two games left in the Foothill League season, and Miner decided to keep her on the varsity squad for playoffs as well.
“I put her in halfway through the second half,” he said. “She kind of sparked us a little bit with her energy and enthusiasm and created a couple opportunities.”
Grace Seitz was steady on defense and even switched from left outside back to right after halftime to defend South Hills’ top offensive player, a girl that Miner said was the fastest they’d seen all year.
“That’s been Grace all year,” Miner said. “She’s shut down pretty much anybody that’s been on her side. In my opinion, I think she’s the best outside back in the league.”
The Centurions (8-6-6) will lose 10 seniors to graduation, including Seitz, Shaina Berdin, Michelle Walker, Emily Barbour and starting goalkeeper Maddie Moreno.
The senior class was able to lay a new foundation for Saugus girls soccer. The Cents had failed to make the playoffs for seven straight years before last season, and this year was a continuation of that.
“I challenged the underclassmen that are coming back,” Miner said. “They’ve got some big shoes to fill by the seniors and I feel like they can do it. The groundwork has been laid by the senior class. They’ve worked hard to put Saugus soccer back on the map.”
Mira Costa 3, West Ranch 0
The Wildcats (10-9-4) lost on the road in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs on Thursday to Mira Costa (19-2).
“I was proud of the way that they fought and battled,” said first-year coach Eric White.
“We went up against a team that had four girls going to Division 1. And a U.S. National Team player who was probably the best high school girls soccer player I’ve seen in my life.”
Although West Ranch’s season has concluded, White is optimistic about the future as the team will return nearly all of their starters.
“Next year is probably the year that we’ll see if we can improve on the back-to-back second-place finishes and see if we can add a foothill league title for the first time in West Ranch history,” White said.