Saugus has a reason to believe

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson “They’re a good team,” San Fernando coach Francis Melendez said afterward. The Tigers are no slouch. The defending Valley Mission league champions are the Daily News’ top-ranked team and have held opponents to 11 goals through 17 games. “We know they definitely controlled the tempo in the first half,” Groller said. “But the second half, we definitely had some opportunities. We made them sweat. Their coach even told me after the game we made them work. We were pounding on the door. “To do as well as we did at the tournament, it’s something good for us to take into league. We got off to sort of a slow start to the season, but we had injuries and things, and now I think we’re coming around.” Among those playing in pain at the Hart tournament was leading scorer Kyle Ernsberger, who has been bothered much of the season by an ankle injury. Midfielder Nick Chang also hurt his ankle. Midfielder Larry Guizer tried to play through back problems, but he missed a few games and sat out the second half of the final. Last week, the Saugus High boys’ soccer team was clinging to a .500 record. This week, the Centurions head into Foothill League play brimming with confidence. Saugus, which is not at full strength, was a surprise finalist in last week’s Hart tournament. If the Centurions can keep that momentum with their lineup intact, they have good reason to believe they’ll be in the hunt for a league title. “We definitely are taking that as an indication of what we can do the rest of the season,” Saugus coach Seth Groller said of his team’s second-place finish at a tournament that included league rivals Hart, Valencia and Canyon. The Centurions lost 2-0 in the final against San Fernando, but they were within a goal of the City Section power most of the game. This despite two players being out of town for the holidays and several others playing through injuries or sidelined by injuries. The Tigers’ final goal was scored in the 76th minute, after Saugus pulled a defender to put an extra man up front. The Centurions have had a week off to recuperate after playing five games in three days, and Groller says everyone is healthy and ready to go as league play begins. Saugus (7-5-2) faces Burroughs of Burbank (7-2-2) in its Foothill opener. Third time’s the charm: Saugus and Quartz Hill have met three times this season, and each rematch brought better results for the Centurions. After Quartz Hill won 5-1 in a Dec. 8 nonleague match, the teams tied 1-1 during pool play at the Hart tournament. They met again in the tournament semifinals, and Saugus won, 2-0. Welcome: Today’s league openers mark the Foothill debut of several coaches. Hart’s Robert Ramirez and Saugus’ Groller are in their first seasons as head coach after tenures as assistants. Khris Savage is in his first season at Canyon. Tony Scalercio takes over as Valencia’s head coach after coaching the Vikings’ girls’ team. Progress: Valencia’s 3-1 consolation-round victory over La Salle of Pasadena equaled the Vikings’ win total of last season. Valencia’s lone in 2004-05 was by forfeit. Heather Gripp, (818) 713-3607 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more