It was a tale of two halves on Tuesday at Jordan where Millikan senior captain Jesus Moreno came alive after halftime and led the Rams to a 2-0 Moore League victory between CIF-SS Division 1 programs.
After a relatively even first half, Moreno scored in the 55th minute on the counter attack and provided perfect service on a set piece five minutes later that Cristian Palacios finished with a strong header. Millikan goalkeeper Michael Schoen collected the clean sheet with five saves.
“We talked about playing the ball into better spaces,” Millikan coach Jeff Schofield said. “When we won first balls were weren’t picking up those second balls. In soccer those are just as important as winning the first ball.”
In the first half, Jordan (0-1-3, 0-1-3) did a fantastic job of maintaining possession while spreading Millikan (4-2-0, 3-1-0) out wide as much as possible. Jordan goalkeeper Steve Pineda came off his line to make some great plays and had six saves in the game. The shots were even at the half 5-5, but the Rams outshot the Panthers 8-2 in the second half.
“I told my teammates (at halftime) we had to finish our chances,” Moreno said. “You saw in the first half we had a bunch and couldn’t capitalize. I told them to go in with more intensity and we finished two of them and I’m happy about it.”
The 55th minute goal go started on a direct through ball from Connor McCoy to Samani Villanueva at the top of the 18-yard box. Villanueva played it forward to Moreno with one touch wide where Moreno used his first touch to beat the goalkeeper and a quick second touch to finish cleanly.
Millikan drew one of only nine Jordan fouls at the hour mark, and from yards off the far sideline Moreno’s service found Palacios at the back post for the insurance goal.
“He’s a difference maker,” Schofield said of Moreno. “We kind of changed his positioning too and got him in some good spots to get the ball. He scored a great goal and had a perfect cross on the second goal.”
The Jordan pitch is the last natural playing surface in the league, but Moreno said it didn’t hurt the Rams attack.
“We don’t always get to practice at the new stadium at Millikan so we practice on the softball field it’s almost the same grass because it’s beat down now that everyone is using it,” he said. “We didn’t complain about the field at all because we’ve been here and we’re used to it.”
Schofield and Jordan coach Joe Gonzalez are both in their first year at the helm of their respective teams.
“The quality has been really good and every game has been tight,” Schofield said of the league. “(Jordan) hasn’t won a game and they’re good. That was a really tough game and we’re grateful to pull out a win.”
Jordan has played close games but are winless after not being able to play any preseason games.
“It’s just going to take time and this is new to them,” Gonzalez said. “The seniors need to be patient and learn that new culture that I’m trying to bring.”
Millikan hosts Cabrillo on Thursday. Jordan visits Long Beach Poly tomorrow.
Wilson 2, Compton 1
The Bruins (7-1-0, 5-0-0) stayed atop the league table with a win thanks to goals from Jobe De La Cruz in the fifth minute and Daniel Cervantes in the 25th minute. Compton’s Antonio Vallejo scored the first league goal against Wilson this year in the 30th minute.
Lakewood 1, Cabrillo 0
Jose Jimenez scored for the Lancers and goalkeeper Lewis Blanton earned the clean sheet.