It didn’t take long for Omar Juarez to make his presence felt on Tuesday at Cabrillo where he and the Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits opened this rescheduled Moore League boys’ soccer season with a 4-1 victory.
“After a long time being out it feels good to be on the field with all of the guys,” Juarez said. “We haven’t had much time to prepare. It was kind of hard with the short notice to get back on. But overall I’m proud of what we’ve done and what we accomplished. We’re ready for more.”
Juarez, who was most recently with a developmental academy player, scored a goal in each half to pull his team even and push them ahead. Poly is trying to repeat as Moore League champions for the first time since 2004-05.
“It feels amazing being back out here seeing these guys playing with joy,” Poly coach Eric Leon said. “A few times during the game I was just shocked that we are actually playing. It’s beautiful seeing the smiles on (the players) faces.”
In the early going Poly looked like the defending league champions ready for a lopsided win. The Jackrabbits ended up outshooting Cabrillo 8-1 in the first half, but the Jaguars scored the first goal on a deft counter attack. Freshman Duanne Baker played it up to David Cruz and the sophomore used a fancy spin move to find space and score in the 10th minute.
The Jackrabbits were undeterred and continued to press up and create chances in the final third. Juarez’ equalizer in the 25th minute was an absolute wonder strike from 30 yards out.
“I saw the chance,” Juarez said. “I turned around and they were giving me the opportunity to shoot. So I take it, why not?”
It looked like Cabrillo could survive and get to halftime 1-1, but Poly junior Luke Brown pounced on a mistake and also connected from distance in the 39th minute to put the Jackrabbits up for good.
“Going into halftime 1-1 would’ve been a different game,” said Cabrillo coach Pay Noyes, who had a handful of freshman in his lineup because of ineligible upperclassman. “Our goal is to compete and give our young guys a chance to get on the field and play.”
Cabrillo looked the more lively side in the first 15 minutes of the second half with the freshman Baker taking the only three shots in that run of play. The Jaguars wouldn’t get more time to hunt for the equalizer as Juarez scored off a set piece from the top of the box just after the hour mark.
“He’s a man playing with boys and he’s just a junior,” Leon said of Juarez. “He’s a special talent and we’re glad to have him. He’s a perfect compliment to the kids that we have.”
The 2019-20 Moore League Offensive Player of the Year, Kenny Barnabee, scored an insurance goal seven minute later.
“I didn’t cut any seniors this year,” Leon said. “This pandemic has changed everything, including me. Life is precious and it’s short and who am I to take that opportunity away from these kids? Hats off to those seniors who came in and finished off that game.”
Poly travels to Millikan on Thursday while Cabrillo visits Wilson.
Wilson 1, Jordan 0
Elsewhere in the Moore League, a 25th minute set piece goal from Fernando Ramirez proved to be the difference at Wilson. Goalkeeper Gavin Pool-Harris has only given up one goal in four games. The Bruins are 3-1 overall.