The Long Beach Poly girls’ soccer team is headed to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinals next week after a thrilling victory over Los Osos. The Jackrabbits upset Temecula Valley in the first round and looked right at home on their home field, possessing the ball for the majority of the game and taking advantage of their opportunity to score in a 1-0 victory.
Poly will play the winner of Edison and Santa Margarita on Wednesday in the D1 quarters.
“Los Osos had some of what we had, which is grit,” said Poly coach Anthony Perez. “That was a great game, I’m glad we won it.”
The Jackrabbits got their moment in the 45th minute, when junior forward Kelsey Adams was dribbling into the top of the Los Osos box. She cut back to try and get space for a shot, and was clobbered by a defender, earning a no-doubter penalty kick. Senior Morgan King stepped to the line and calmly buried it in the bottom right of the goal.
“We’ve persevered through so much, I knew I had to do it for my team,” she said. “We had a rough start to the season, but we’re still standing.”
Poly was closer to a second goal than Los Osos was to a first for most of the second half, as they did a better job controlling the game with the lead than they have in the past. Senior Aniah Cutler had five shots on goal including one where she bullied her way through two defenders to earn an open shot, which was saved by the diving Los Osos keeper.
“We talked a lot about, if it’s a one goal game, know when to hold it or when to push it,” said Perez, who is happy with his team’s development. “I think we’re peaking at the right time again. It’s hard because the season is so tight on club, we just don’t get a lot of games to get into a rhythm.”
Perez was especially proud of how his team battled, pointing out that starters Sarah Eden and Chloe Fuson have been sick all week, but battled through it to play big minutes on Saturday.
Also worthy of big praise was keeper Kira Ybarra, who came up huge for the Jackrabbits in their win over TV earlier in the week, and who posted a clean sheet in the second round on Saturday.
“My defense really stepped up, I have to give them a lot of the credit,” said Ybarra. “They were in control today and I stepped up and took care of the rest.”
The season continues for the Jackrabbits, who will host Edison in the Division 1 quarterfinals Wednesday at 5 p.m.