Despite playing a pretty strong game on both sides of the ball, the Saugus High School boys’ soccer team was unable to come out on top in its state Div. 3 Round-of-32 playoff game last Saturday at Stoneham. The Sachems battled the host Spartans in an evenly matched contest but ended up losing by a 3-0 count.
The 21st-seeded Sachems avoided having to play a preliminary round contest when they received a bye to the Round of 32. Saturday’s defeat left Saugus with a final overall record of 13-4-2. The Sachems had won seven straight entering Saturday’s tilt.
On the other side, 12th-seeded Stoneham improved to 8-7-4, having received a higher seed (despite its regular-season record) due to its strength of schedule. Stoneham moved on to the Round of 16 to face 28th-seeded Bishop Stang, which advanced by upsetting 5th-seeded and previously undefeated Oakmont.
The Spartans opened the scoring about 15 minutes into the first half and that’s how it stayed until the intermission. The game was a back-and-forth affair for most of the second period, but neither team could dent the net. Saugus forwards Nicholas Alves, Tavio Patricio and Max Anajjar tried to put offensive pressure on the Stoneham net. The Sachems did have some good scoring chances but couldn’t cash in.
Meanwhile, the Spartans broke the ice late in the period to make it a 2-0 game. That margin was increased to three in the waning minutes when the Sachems left themselves vulnerable defensively as they got overly aggressive on offense in an attempt to get on the board.
Despite surrendering three goals (two of them very late in the contest), Saugus’s defense played well, helped by the performances of Cam Soroka and Ben Tapia-Gately. Also, captains Melvin Hernandez and Alejandro Ortega had strong outings in the midfield.