Long Beach Poly’s girls’ soccer team won just about every aspect of its CIF State Division II quarterfinal game against El Camino Real on Tuesday afternoon. In fact, the only thing that Poly lost was one of Oregon State signee Skylar Herrera’s nails, which was broken during contact along the sideline. In a twist that was indicative of how the game went for Poly, Herrera would score the game’s final goal a few minutes later, sealing a 3-0 Jackrabbit win.
“Don’t mess with my hair and don’t mess with my nails,” said Herrera after the game. “I had to score after that happened.”
Poly opened the scoring early as Washington State commit Aniah Cutler found freshman Sarah Amara in the fifth minute, but the Jackrabbits spent most of the rest of the first half in defensive mode, as ECR pushed hard and Poly struggled to retain possession and connect multiple passes. Jackrabbits goalie Kira Ybarra had four saves in the first half as CSUN signee Zoi Lerma had two shots on goal.
At halftime, Poly coach Anthony Perez talked to his team about settling into their “collect and connect” style, which his team did beautifully in the second half. Poly took a commanding 2-0 lead in the 45th minute on a corner kick, as Morgan King served up a perfect look for Cutler, who headed it to the bottom of the crossbar for a textbook set piece goal.
After that, the game got a little chippy, which played into Poly’s hands.
“When it gets intense like that it makes us play harder,” said Cutler. “We want to match each other’s energy.”
Perez smiled when asked if his team played better once words started flying back and forth.
“My girls are fighters, we’re all about a lot of respect, and a lot of attitude,” he said.
No play better represented that than Herrera’s turquoise nail getting snapped off, then scoring seconds later. Freshman Mae Sila fed Herrera a perfect pass through four defenders, then Herrera shook a fifth and crossed the ball into the net with her left in the 78th minute to cap the scoring.
The Jackrabbits will travel to Mira Costa for a state semifinal game on Thursday at 4 p.m.