Millikan’s intensity went unmatched on Thursday as the Rams beat visiting Long Beach Poly 3-1 in Moore League boys’ soccer action.
Senior Bryant Amador put the Jackrabbits ahead in the 26th minute on a cracking one-timer from the top of the 18-yard box. However, Samani Villanueva, Issac Chavez and Donovan Espinoza scored unanswered goals for the Rams to cinch the victory over the defending league champions.
“One team was prepared and one team wasn’t prepared for the level of intensity of that game,” Poly coach Eric Leon said. “We were one step behind the majority of the game.”
Millikan looked more engaged from the outset and was outshooting Poly 5-1 when Amador finished a deft leave-behind ball from fellow senior Ethan Shnack. The Rams would end up outshooting the Jackrabbits 12-4 in the game.
“We couldn’t connect and they frustrated our key players,” Leon added. “Hats off to Millikan. They were the better team today.”
“It was what I was expecting in terms of intensity and talent on both teams,” Millikan first-year coach Jeff Schofield said. “The message (after Poly scored) was to continue to do what we were doing. We allowed them one chance and they finished that one chance.”
Schofield also praised his senior center back tandem of Julian Ribas and Cristian Palacios plus midfielder Heath Pablico for dealing with Poly’s talented forwards Kenny Barnabee and Omar Juarez.
Millikan enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and was building pressure at the end of the first half when Chavez directly fed Villanueva in the box. He spun around and finished on the near side to equalize five minutes before halftime.
The Rams rolled that momentum over into the second half, and Chavez’ looping header off a beautiful back-post cross from junior Connor McCoy in the 50th minute gave the Rams the lead for good.
“I saw the run, it’s the same run we practice on the back post,” Chavez said. “We understand each other and I got up there. I’m pretty good with my head, as you see, and I finished the goal.”
Espinosa scored off a Jesus Moreno corner kick in the 75th minute for insurance.
Chavez said the Rams are enjoying their first season under Schofield after the retirement of 39-year coach Rod Petkovic.
“He’s open to suggestions and straight with the way he wants it,” Chavez said of Schofield. “It’s still Millikan soccer so we’re here representing.”
Both teams had four corner kicks, and Poly committed 17 fouls to Millikan’s 11. The Jackrabbits also had three yellow cards to Millikan’s one.
Poly hosts Compton on Tuesday. Millikan hosts Wilson on Thursday in a first-place showdown.
Wilson 3, Cabrillo 0
Jobe De La Cruz scored a brace for the Bruins at home while goalkeeper Gavin Pool-Harris collected his second clean sheet in as many league games. Riki Moscoso scored the other goal for Wilson.
Lakewood 2, Jordan 1
Jose Jimenez and Alberto Munoz scored for the Lancers at home.