It was a special day for the Long Beach Poly girls’ soccer team, as a few of their seniors signed scholarships before a packed auditorium at the school’s Signing Day celebration, and then helped lead their team to a first-round playoff win. Poly started fast with three first-half goals and was able to outlast Palos Verdes for the win, 3-2.
The Jackrabbits will hit the road Friday for a second-round CIF-SS Division 2 playoff game at Roosevelt.
Poly coach Anthony Perez’s team exhausted PV in the first half, using the entire width and depth of their full-sized turf field, spreading the ball around to create scoring opportunities.
“We wanted to suffocate them, use our athleticism,” said Perez. “This was a special day for our girls, it was ‘feel good, play good.’ They were excited to come out here and get on the field.”
That was evident from the start, as Morgan King fed the ball forward to Ania Cutler down the right wing; Cutler crossed it perfectly to Sarah Santos, who easily got it past the PV goalie in the third minute. In the 30th minute, Oregon State signee Skylar Herrera had as beautiful a goal as you’ll see at the high school level, running down the right wing and then striking the ball in stride, lifting it high and wide, then watching as it curled in behind the goalie’s outstretched hand.
“I’ve just been waiting for this game all day, we’ve been so excited,” said Herrera. “I didn’t know it was going in right away, I was just hoping it did.”
Poly freshman Olivia D’Anna scored what would end up being the game’s deciding goal in the 39th minute, just before halftime.
After Poly made a statement with its athleticism in the first half, the Jackrabbits tried to park the bus in the second half, but PV got a pair of goals back within 15 minutes to bring them back out of defense-first mode. Once Poly got back to attacking, they had the majority of the chances again, with D’Anna getting two good looks at the goal before time ran out.
“They were hungry today,” said Perez. “They wanted to beat Millikan and win league, they felt they were good enough to do that. But they said, ‘No excuses, let’s go do our thing’ and they did that today.”
The game Friday will be at Roosevelt at 3 p.m. or 5 p.m.; we will post a schedule update on Twitter @562sports once we’ve received it.