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Sachems boys soccer team looks to defend Division Championship title

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By Dom Nicastro


The Saugus High School boys soccer team returns to the fields this fall as defending Northeastern Conference Lynch Division champions. And they have nothing but confidence they’ll make more noise this season.

Guillermo Sepulveda, a Spanish teacher in the Saugus school system, returns for his third season. He’s been building the program steadily and is ready to make another run at success on the North Shore this fall. Saugus finished 13-3-2 in the 2022 season and lost to Stoneham in the opening round of the tourney.

Saugus, which opens up on the road at Winthrop Wednesday, Sept. 6, has been actively participating in preseason matches to gauge its performance and readiness for the upcoming season. It faced Boston Latin Academy in a match that culminated in a tie. This was followed by a loss to Northeast, but the team bounced back with a victory against Malden.

Sepulveda expressed genuine satisfaction with the team’s evolving dynamics. He highlighted the noticeable improvement in the team’s chemistry, emphasizing their enhanced connection on the field. The team has been focusing on refining their passing techniques and ensuring fluid movement as a cohesive unit, which is pivotal for their gameplay.

The team is facing challenges with the departure of four pivotal starters from the previous year. This included two crucial strikers, a center-midfielder and a defender. Despite these significant losses, Sepulveda remains optimistic about the team’s ability to adapt and restructure. He believes in the potential of the current players to fill the gaps and continue the legacy of excellence. “We lost four starters, but we’ll put it together again this year,” he said.

The backbone of the Saugus boys soccer team lies in its leadership. The team boasts three captains – Alejandro Ortega, a senior, Brian Pineda, a senior, and Nicolas DeOliveira, a senior – who not only lead by example but also inspire their teammates to strive for excellence. These captains have been with the team since their eighth-grade years, witnessing the highs and lows, and their commitment is unwavering. Their dedication is a testament to their love for the game and their teammates, according to their coach.

“Our strength for the full team is our captains,” Sepulveda said. “They own the team, they are invested in the team, and everybody wants to play at their best for those three guys, for the seniors on our team that have been with us since they were in eighth grade and we were losing every game.”

Ortega is lauded as one of the best players around the North Shore. His skills and soccer knowledge are unparalleled, making him a go-to player when a play needs to happen. Pineda is celebrated for his leadership skills. He is the driving force on the field, managing the team and even running practices. His dedication is profound, according to his coach. De Oliveira is a defensive maestro. His expertise in building and managing the defense is crucial for the team’s success.

Sepulveda’s vision for his team is not just limited to soccer. He sees the potential in his players, especially in his leaders, to excel beyond the field. He believes that the leadership skills they are honing now can be assets in their future careers, emphasizing the importance of leadership in all spheres of life. “This is something they could put on a college application or a job resume,” he said. “… We need more leaders in this world.”

Sepulveda wants to impart on his players that hard work lays the foundation for success. His journey to Saugus started in Texas, and before his gig in public school systems he was in grocery retail, once pulling off each profession. Now a Spanish teacher and soccer coach, he feels like he’s been living the dream. He feels his personal experiences resonate with many of his players, making his bond with them even stronger.

Saugus opens up its home schedule Monday, Sept. 11 against Masconomet at 4 p.m. It’s on the road again at Salem Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 4:30 p.m.

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