SAUGUS — Marblehead’s boy’s soccer team walked into enemy territory on Wednesday, escaping with a 3-2 victory over winless Saugus.
The first opportunity for Marblehead came from a free kick 45 yards out. Stefan Shepard stood over the ball and kicked it into a dangerous area. Jared Halpern found himself free in the penalty box and poked things home to make it 1-0 just 14 minutes into the match.
“I call our group a striker by committee because we don’t have a sole assassin,” Marblehead coach Elmer Magana said. “We score by committee and I told them if you have a chance and they give you space, take the shot. That’s what they did today.”
Magana said he wanted his team to continue to attack, and knew Saugus wouldn’t go down without a fight.
With less than 11 minutes remaining in the first half, Adam Loughlin won the ball back in the midfield and quickly played it ahead to Jack Burke. Burke then played a perfectly-weighted ball to Miles Fontela-Tuttle who tucked away another for a 2-0 lead.
“[Transitioning] is a drill we practice a lot. We practice having three attackers and two defenders and we want to pass the ball quickly and find the open man,” Magana said.
With 4:43 left in the first half, Saugus was on the attack. The ball was whipped into the penalty area and, after Marblehead failed to clear, the ball landed nicely to Jose Zuluaga Sanchez who poked it in to cut the lead in half (2-1).
“We knew that Saugus would be tough to beat,” Magana said. “We told our guys if you put in a goal first, you have to keep going. Saugus never gives up. We had to fight until the last second because they’ll never give in.”
Wednesday was Marblehead’s second game this week (the first against Peabody) scoring two goals in the first half. When asked if Magana has seen anything different lately, he pointed to a game against Swampscott earlier this month.
“When we played against Swampscott, we came out flat and never turned on the switch,” he said. “They didn’t come out flat the last two games. Against Peabody, they were ready to go and they were ready to go today. That’s been the difference. Each player has decided to flip the switch from the start of the game. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
The second half was a back-and-forth game with both teams creating chances. Unfortunately for Saugus, the Magicians capitalized again.
Fontela-Tuttle once again received the ball with space and let off a strike that hit the bottom-left post before crossing the goal line (3-2).
That said, Brian Pineda of the Sachems took a deep breath and drilled the ball into the top-left corner from 23 yards out to give Saugus a chance with nine minutes remaining.
Despite having the urgency to find an equalizer, all shots in the final frame were saved by Marblehead’s Leonardo Rapone.
After the game, Sachems’ coach Guillermo Sepulveda was not pleased with his side’s performance.
“Our formation has to change and our starters have to change,” he said. “We have a lot of talent on our team – we just don’t know how to use it with everybody.”
On the other bench, Magana was happy with his group.
“I’m extremely happy with how the defense played and how our backup goalie, Leonardo, played,” Magana said. “Our middies were great and our strikers found the back of the net. I’m pleased.”
Sepulveda knows what he wants to see from his team moving forward, and that’s to make fewer mistakes and have more spacing.
“I want to see more movement and less bunching. They need to spread out more and be less of spectators,” Sepulveda said.
The Sachems look to bounce back Thursday when they host Pioneer Charter, while the Magicians aim to extend their winning streak to three when they travel to Andover on Saturday.