After trailing at halftime, Valencia Vikings’ boys soccer found its equalizer late in its home match with the Saugus Centurions.
Sophomore Henry Sarkisyan drilled a shot into the back of the net after a deflected corner kick found the forward striding toward the back pole.
Sarkisyan’s score tied the game up, 2-2, and was the final goal of the day, sending both teams home with a point.
The Vikings (1-3-1, 0-1-1) struck first and last as junior midfielder Andres Alonzo opened up the scoring with a penalty kick goal.
Valencia was already down one striker dealing with an injury but then lost captain and forward Jordan Cardenas early in the first half.
“I thought we started off good, but we slowed down a little once Jordan went down,” said Valencia coach Jose Villafan in a phone interview.
From there on, it was all Saugus.
The Centurions (0-0-2, 0-0-2) ramped up the pressure and rattled the Vikings. Saugus still trailed 1-0 with less than 10 minutes to go in the opening half before breaking the game open. Senior Alejandro Zalamdea drilled the game’s first equalizer off the assist from Centurion teammate Cooper Luckenbach.
Saugus forward Shane Gilliam then hit Santiago Veizaga, who took the ball down the right sideline and buried the go-ahead goal.
The 2-1 deficit forced Villafan to opt into a more offensive approach at halftime.
“Our guys were a little off balance and not stepping up or stepping into the pressure,” Villafan said. “At halftime, what I really implemented on the boys was to be more offensive. I told them, ‘We need to go after this game because it’s not going to be given to us.’”
The Vikings managed to overcome the adversity and notched their first draw of the season.
The Vikings’ midfield was able to win a bulk of the 50/50 balls in the second half, keeping the pressure on the Centurion defense.
“Defensively, I don’t think it was our best performance,” Villafan said. “Offensively, we’re getting things together but at the midfield we had a lot of good stuff. We won a lot of balls there.”
Valencia had a bumpy start to the season after playing a hard-hitting non-league schedule. However, from day one to now, Villafan has seen his young team develop immensely.
“I feel from where they started, having such a young team, to where they are now, is leaps and bounds,” Villafan said. “Their mentality for next-game preparation is great. All the previous mistakes don’t matter because we are that much better in the next game.”
Both teams will head uphill and shoot for their first league wins of the season on Thursday. Valencia heads up to Castaic, while Saugus travels to West Ranch for league games at 3:15 p.m.