The562’s soccer coverage for the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Beach Futbol Club.
The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is Sponsored by Curtis Boyer.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is Sponsored by Poly alum Jayon Brown and PlayFair Sports Management.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is Sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.
With the top four teams separated by only three points heading into the games on Wednesday, this is one of the closest Moore League boys’ soccer seasons in recent memory. A handful of Moments have changed the title Chase over the last few weeks, and another came when Long Beach Poly visited Millikan.
The Rams took a lead at halftime, but Poly earned an Equalizing penalty kick in the 49th minute that earned the visitors a 1-1 draw and altered the league standings. Millikan (5-1-3, 18 points) falls into second place behind Cabrillo (6-2-2, 20 pts.) with a game in hand. Poly (4-2-3, 15 pts.) stays in fourth place behind Lakewood (4-1-4, 16 pts.) with three match days left in the regular season.
“We played well enough to win, but a draw at the end of the day isn’t that bad,” Poly Coach Eric Leon said. “We’re within range of the league title and within range of not making the playoffs. The Moore League is fun this year.”
Both defenses were organized and smart in this one while Millikan outshot Poly 5-4— but it was 4-2 Rams after the first half.
“I thought we played great in the first half and poor in the second half, that’s kind of been the theme here,” Millikan Coach Jeff Schofield said. “(Poly) came with aggression (in the second half) and they switched play really well so we kind of struggled with that.”
The first shot on goal in the 30th minute ended up in the back of the net for Millikan. Nathan Farkhondeh sent his 40-yard set piece service into the box where Juan Vasquez slightly deflected the ball off the half volley. It was inch perfect in front of the goal for Aaron De Leon to head it into the goal.
“He makes great runs and loves to score goals and talk about scoring goals,” Schofield said of De Leon. “Guys like that find a way to put it in the back of the net.”
The Rams almost scored again in the 35th minute when Farkhondeh met a Sergio Flores cross in front of the goal. His shot was saved by Poly goalkeeper Amir Diaz Espinoza, and the rebound was cleared off the line by Steve Marquez.
Poly was able to frustrate Millikan with its shape in the second half, and continued to play their forwards with long balls over the Rams midfield. In the 49th minute, Joshua Cholico was on the end of a long ball where he tussled with Millika’s defender Orlando Rost. They both went to ground inside the box and the referee awarded the penalty kick while issuing Rost a yellow card. Poly’s Roberto Bermudez scored the PK under diving Millikan goalkeeper Riley Cabarles to make it 1-1.
“The goal was a game changer,” Schofield said. “To that point they had a little more (of the ball) but they weren’t creating chances. Once that goal happened it really changed things. It came from nothing on a ball kicked 50 yards.”
The Jackrabbits were inches away from going ahead down the stretch, but Cholico just missed a cross with his outstretched boot in the 54th minute and couldn’t find the net with an open shot with the last kick of the ball. Leon wanted to give credit to Assistant Coach David Rivas for a smart game plan.
“I think that we showed our class in the second half and unfortunately we couldn’t find the ball in the back of the net,” Leon said. “Our backline was ready the few times (Millikan) broke through. Guys like Noah Gonzalez, Roberto Bermudez and Noah Ramirez put in good shifts in the middle.”
Millikan visits Lakewood on Friday while Poly hosts Compton.
“We control our own destiny,” Leon said. “If we perform we’ll finish one, two or three. If we don’t perform we could be three, four or maybe even five. But that’s the same thing for the top five teams in the league. We’ve got to worry about what we have to worry about, not let extra noise from the outside get to us and execute our game plan and we’ll be alright.”