The Long Beach Poly girls’ soccer program has been through a lot over the last five years under multiple head coaches, but the Jackrabbits feel like they’re headed in the right direction again under first-year coach Anthony Perez, and the results don’t lie.
Poly is playing its second CIF Southern Section semifinal in the last five years when it hosts Sunny Hills on Saturday at Wilson. The Division 2 matchup will kickoff at 3 p.m. Poly lost to Mater Dei in the 2015 Division 1 semifinals.
“We’re getting it back to where it should be,” Poly senior Skylar Herrera said. “(Coach Perez) has done everything he could to bring the program back to life, and I think it’s just going to keep getting better.”
Perez had been with the Poly program as a lower level coach, then after a year at Jordan, returned to lead the Jackrabbits this year after a disappointing third-place finish last season. Poly was one game away from winning the Moore League title last month.
“The motivation to get the program back to what it was has definitely been the leading theme this year,” Perez said. “I’ve stressed small successes. I believe we could’ve won the league, and not doing that was the hunger and the motivation to push as far as we’re pushing now.”
Sunny Hills (24-1-4) is a lot like the Ventura team that Poly beat in the quarterfinals. Like the Cougars, the Lancers have only allowed 10 goals this season while playing with a direct attack. Just like they did against Ventura, Poly will counter that by relying on its sheer athleticism and physicality.
“Our game is just going at people and I think that’s what we’ve got to do again,” Perez said.