Returning key players from last year’s squad and adding some more talent, the Saugus girls soccer team is still trying to figure out what combinations work well with each other.
Hosting Thousand Oaks at Saugus on Wednesday, the Centurions looked a little out of sync bothered by the Lancers’ early pressure.
However, Saugus wore down Thousand Oaks as the game went on and was able to net a second-half goal for a 1-0 win.
“We just have to keep working on something,” Miner said. “They gave us trouble in the midfield section where we struggled early, but once we figured out some stuff and made adjustments at halftime, the girls really did what we asked them to do.”
The Lancers began the game on the offensive, barely allowing Saugus to operate in the attacking third of the pitch due to the concentration of players in the midfield. Saugus (2-0-1 overall) slowly gained momentum in the first half as forwards Jazmine Flores and Kaelyn Viger spent countless amounts of energy trying to pressure the Thousand Oaks backline into a mistake.
In the 22nd minute of play, tragedy almost struck as Presley Williams tried to clear an advancing Thousand Oaks’ through-pass. The ball hit and ricocheted back towards the Saugus goal, but Madalynn Moreno was there to save the goal.
From that point on, Saugus turned and went on the offensive, pushing up and increasing the tempo with Emily Barbour, Shaina Berlin and Alyssa Edwards leading the Saugus attack.
Barbour flourished in the middle of the field by winning balls and creating chances while still getting back on defense.
“She’s one of the girls that didn’t get a lot of playing time last year and she took advantage of the time that she did,” Miner said of Barbour. “This year she’s really stepped up, is a captain for us and she’s working her butt off out there and playing real well for us.”
Berdin and Edwards operated out wide providing numerous crosses and long-range shots.
Just before the end of the half, Williams tried her luck from about 20 yards out on a free kick, but the Thousand Oaks (0-2-1) goalkeeper made a fingertip save.
The Saugus attack didn’t seem to slow down two minutes into the second half as Kaelyn Viger took a shot that barely missed the goal and landed in the side netting.
Minutes later, Viger got another chance.
With Saugus driving down the field, Katie Russell collected a ball down the right flank and went one-on-one with a Lancers defender. Spotting Viger and multiple Saugus players in the middle of the penalty box, Russell sent a cross towards the box.
Blanketed by Thousand Oaks players, Viger jumped above the heap of players and sent a header hurling into the net and past the goalkeeper to put Saugus ahead 1-0.
“All I knew was that I needed to get it in the back of the net and that if I didn’t we would continue to be tied and it was going to be rough for the rest of the game,” Viger said. “My goal was just to try and get it in the back of the net, that’s all I really cared about.”
Down 1-0, the Thousand Oaks’ attack noticeably put their effort into overdrive, but the Saugus defense held its ground and got numbers behind the ball to turn back wave after wave of the Lancers’ attack to earn their second shut-out win of the season.
Saugus plays against Pacifica at 3 p.m. in the Buena Tournament at Buena High School on Friday.