By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
The Centurions had no issues putting away the visiting La Serna Lancers early en route to Saugus’ first playoff win in five years.
The bulk of the Centurions’ scoring came from senior Blake Fusano, who earned the hat trick for Saugus. The senior scored goals at the 11- and 20-minute marks before subbing out for the remainder of the first half. Fusano got his third goal in the 47th minute. Every goal in the 4-2 win was caused by Fusano and the Centurions’ disruption leading to quick counter-strikes.
“We did what we needed to do to be in position early,” said Centurion head coach Seth Groller.
The captain has been an issue for defenses all year with 15 regular-season goals.
Saugus kept pressure on La Serna throughout the opening half. The Lancers would try to play a more conservative defensive game plan but the quick counters and constant long volleys landing in the La Serna box forced pressure throughout the game. This gave Saugus a huge advantage of possession throughout the first half.
Lancers’ centerback Isaac Garcia was a big problem for the Centurions. However, Fusano had no issues attacking on the wings, avoiding the 6-foot-3 defender.
The Lancers turned up the heat and came out fierce for the second half. The team had some good looks but Centurion goalkeeper Hunter Maiden smothered every corner kick and shot inside the box.
The two goals conceded were the first Maiden has allowed in four games, which has helped the Centurion win streak now hit five games.
Defensive back Dylan Silva, who has played the most minutes on the pitch for the Centurions, registered his first goal of the season. Silva was a menace on defense, allowing nothing easy inside for La Serna and capped off another great defensive performance with a goal.
The two late goals came late in the game with the first somehow connecting from midfield and the second coming in extra time on a confusing play filled with collisions, with a player knocking and moving the goal post.
“We’ve only let in now 12 goals out of our whole season, our defense has always been solid,” Fusano said. “Our centers and mids [are] outstanding and our attack is strong.”
Saugus is a balanced team thanks to their strong defense with eight blank sheets on the year now. The offense does its part as well with 46 goals in 17 games this year.
“I think the thing that this team has that sets us apart is the good balance between a really dangerous attack and a very solid defense,” said Groller.
Saugus will now play the winner of Beaumont and Yorba Linda on Tuesday.