SAUGUS — Through the initial four matches of the 2010 season, the Crescenta Valley High girls' soccer team's defense has been tough to beat.
On one occasion Wednesday afternoon, the Falcons were beat and it led to a second consecutive loss, but while the goal given up in the 1-0 loss to host Saugus was the most tangible sign of defeat, it's clear that Crescenta Valley's largest problems lie within its offense.
"We've tried 100 different things," said first-year Falcons Coach Jorden Schulz, whose team dropped to 1-2-1 on the season, having been shut out in its last three contests. "I think it's gonna come. Apparently it's just gonna take time. We're obviously gonna change some things."
The Falcons fouled a Centurions player in the sixth minute, leading to a penalty kick by Ysabel Padron that got past first-year goalie Jessi Magallon, who had four saves.
"We got beat and we tripped them," Schulz said. "[The referee] called it right."
Saugus (2-1-2), which advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division II quarterfinals last season and won the division title the year prior, controlled the tempo much of the first half, but certainly didn't dominate. The effort of the Falcons, who had a 10-9 shot differential, in the first 40 minutes was not something Schulz was fond of, leading to a rather fiery halftime speech.
"The effort's what I care about," she said. "It wasn't there in the first half, it was in the second half. Maybe if it was in the first half, maybe the outcome would've been different."
Both halves saw scoring chances hard to come by for the Falcons, though the likes of Mallory Carcich, Whitley Boller and Sierra Rhoads all fared well on an offense that seemed to at one time or another give just about every Falcon a chance to make something happen. Change on the defense, which was highlighted by the play of Dani Busta and Savannah Rhoads, has hardly hindered a squad having allowed only two goals in four games.
"We are literally a team of rotation," Schulz said. "Every time I make a substitution, four people change positions.
"We are a versatile team, we are just struggling finishing."
The struggles have come against traditionally sturdy competition, though, with a win over Thousand Oaks, a tie against Canyon Country Canyon and losses this week to West Ranch and Saugus. The schedule gets no easier with a Friday night match against Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, the reigning CIF Southern California Division III Regional champion, looming.
"We pick a tough preseason on purpose," Schulz said. "We want to get better, we want to push ourselves."
And Schulz has elected to keep pushing the Falcons until they get through their scoreless drought.
"I still completely believe in them," she said. "They can do it.
"It's me believing in them until they believe in themselves. I'm not gonna lose faith in them. Hopefully they'll gain confidence."