Lakewood Long Beach Poly Millikan Soccer St. Anthony Wilson

CIF-SS Girls’ Soccer Playoff Preview

None of the players on the Millikan girls’ soccer team were alive the last time the Rams won the Moore League championship, a shared title in 1991. In fact, the last time they won the league title by themselves, their head coach was just a baby — it was 1985.

Thanks to a 1-1 draw with Long Beach Poly last Thursday during a merciful break in the rainy weather, the Rams are Moore League champions this year after an undefeated 9-0-3 league season. The CIF Southern Section postseason starts this week for Millikan, Long Beach Poly, Wilson, Lakewood and St. Anthony.

“I can’t even put it into words,” said Rams coach Tino Nunez, who was an All-CIF soccer player at Millikan on the Rams’ 2001 CIF championship team. “I’m a Ram, to do something like this at your school, it means so much.”

Millikan got the goal they needed early, as Samy Sierra dribbled the ball of the back line and fed Karli Slater, who netted it just 51 seconds into the game. Poly would rally furiously in the second half, outshooting the Rams 12-2 and eventually equalizing on a header by Allanah Cutler, on a corner kick from Morgan King.

“We had to survive the second half,” Nunez said.

The Rams had been one win short of the league title for three years, but Nunez told his team he knew they’d be the ones to change their fortune.

“I’ve been telling you guys all year, if any team was going to do it, it was going to be you,” Nunez told his squad after the game.

When the final whistle blew, the team sprinted onto the field for a big celebration, which included a bucket of water going onto Nunez.

“We wanted to win this for each other and for Tino,” Millikan defender Emily Barham said. “He means so much to all of us. I thought I was done with soccer but he brought back my love of the game. I’m wearing his number (9) on my back right now.”

For Slater, the win was the culmination of a year of hard work.

“This team has been through so much, we wanted this so bad,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of injuries and a lot of adversity this year, but we won.”

Millikan (13-6-7, 9-0-3) started the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs at home on Wednesday against La Mirada. The Matadores (14-6-3, 7-2-0) finished second in the Suburban League behind Mayfair after losing to the Monsoons in double overtime last week. Millikan hasn’t played La Mirada since a 0-0 non-conference draw in 2015.

Long Beach Poly (11-1-2, 9-1-2) finished second in the Moore League and hosted Palos Verdes (14-7-2, 6-3-1) on Wednesday in the first round of the Division 2 playoffs. The Sea Kings finished third in the Bay League after winning five of their last seven games. Palos Verdes has very balanced scoring and six players have scored at least five goals. Seven players have four or more assists.

Wilson (11-4-7, 7-1-4) had to play one of the best teams in California on Wednesday as the Bruins traveled to face Sunset Surf League champion Los Alamitos in Division 1 action. The Griffins (21-0-5, 4-0-2) have outscored their opponents 73-10 this season, or an average score of 2.8-0.3. Sophomore Tabitha LaParl scored 26 goals this season for Los Al.

Lakewood (6-10-1, 6-5-1) also was on the road in first round of Division 2 at Warren on Wednesday. The Bears (17-4-4, 9-0-1) won the San Gabriel Valley League title after finishing the season on a 10-game unbeaten streak.

St. Anthony (14-8-1, 7-1-0) bounced back from a dreadful 3-16-1 season a year ago to win the Camino Real League. The Saints were at Clark Field on Wednesday to host Schurr (9-7-2, 6-4-0) in the first round of Division 6. Junior Isabella Aranda scored 26 goals for St. Anthony this season.

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.
http://The562.org