Saugus Centurion boys’ soccer secured second place in the Foothill League on Thursday after a rout of the visiting Canyon Cowboys.
Two Centurion seniors scored goals in their last regular-season home games to blow past Canyon, 4-0.
Saugus (6-8-3, 6-4-2) scored three goals in the second half but opened up the scoring midway through the first.
Centurion junior Andrew Alfaro stole the ball at midfield and pushed deep into Cowboy territory. Canyon goalkeeper Roman Johnson saved the ball but it deflected out back to Alfaro, who rocketed in a second shot. The Canyon backline made another big deflection but the ball still found the back of the net for an own goal.
It was disheartening but only a one-goal deficit for the Cowboys heading into the halftime break.
Canyon (5-9-1, 4-7-1) immediately drove the ball deep into Saugus territory once the second-half whistle blew. The Centurion defense cleared the ball out and a flurry of counter attacks ensued.
Senior Jopeter Elia found an open pocket in the midfield and drove the ball into scoring range. Elia laid off a pass to junior Alejandro Zalamea, who delivered the 2-0 goal. The Centurions rode the momentum with an onslaught of counter attacks but Canyon held on and remained in the 2-0 hole.
Elia found the back of the net about 10 minutes later on a chaotic play. Johnson extended well out of the goal to make a stop but the ball somehow slipped behind him. Canyon’s Gilberto Roque fell back into the goal and made a nice save to stop the ball, but the physical play with the Saugus forwards knocked the Cowboy defender down hard. Saugus didn’t hesitate with the man advantage and Elia fired a ball past Johnson to ice the game at 3-0.
“We’re feeling really good right now, feeling confident,” Elia said. “All of us are starting to click together and obviously we’re starting to build that momentum and everything.”
Saugus’ anchor on the backline, Dylan Silva, made clutch plays all day on defense but found his way onto the box score with a goal off of a header to put the game away.
“The mindset for the last month has just been all business,” Silva said. “We’ve just been trying to get a playoff push going and trying to just focus up to get to playoffs.”
Saugus took round two with the Cowboys after dropping the first game, 3-1, at Canyon.
Centurion head coach Seth Groller believes his team has picked up some momentum just in time before the playoffs. Saugus enters the Division 3 playoffs having won three of its last four matches.
“We talked about it, we watched film and we knew what we had to do,” Groller said. “The most important thing was coming out with the intensity and really playing our soccer. I feel like last time we played them, we kind of let everything else going on affect how we were playing.”
Canyon was already eliminated from taking the fourth seed in league but fought to the end.
Saugus has a handful of returners from last season’s run, which ended in the Division 4 quarterfinals. The Centurions are feeling confident as they embark on another journey for a CIF crown. Saugus finds out its CIF path when brackets are released Saturday morning.
“We’re pumped,” Groller said. “We had a good run last season and unfortunately it ended, you know, in penalty kicks, but it was definitely a good run. We had a really exciting game out in Beaumont, where we won in overtime. A lot of these guys remember that game and have that experience, which I think is going to bode well for us going into playoffs.”