Kelsey Adams, Kyla Gomez and Olivia D’Anna scored three unanswered goals in an 11-minute span on Tuesday at Wilson to help Long Beach Poly grab a 4-2 win. The well-played victory catapults the Jackrabbits into first place after the first round of Moore League girls’ soccer. These old rivals will meet again on the last day of the regular season May 6.
“I told (my players) this was a must win,” Poly coach Anthony Perez said. “It was the composure defensively late in the game that was the key.”
Poly didn’t have that composure in a 2-2 draw with Millikan earlier this season and clearly has learned its lesson. The Jackrabbits were outshot 19-12 but mostly limited the Bruins to late chances from distance while being efficient with their chances in the wide open run of play. Poly goalkeeper Kira Ybarra finished with eight saves.
“The plan this whole year was to kind of play as two teams, a defensive half and an attacking half that gives us a counter attacking style,” Perez said.
Gomez was key to that approach when she came off the bench early to play as a target forward. The sophomore soaked up a lot of attention from the Wilson backline while taking a handful of shots and setting up two other goals. Gomez said she saw the openings she needed to fill from the bench.
“I was super nervous,” Gomez said. “I was thinking about it for a week before, but I was really determined to work as a team with everybody just to get this win.”
“I want to let her have free range of motion and when we put her in that nine position she can do that,” Perez said of Gomez. “She’s half half pit and half bull dog and she gets in there and gets busy. She came off the bench tonight and against Millikan but she’s definitely earning her starting position.”
The game lived up to the rivalry hype with high-quality skill, style and unrivaled pace from both sides.
“The wonderful thing about this rivalry is that you never know what’s going to happen and it’s always an intense game,” Wilson coach Dalton Kaufman said. “I thought the score didn’t reflect the way we played, but there’s only one stat that counts in the end and that’s who scores more goals.”
The first foul and first shot of the game got Poly on the board when Isabella Yakel buried her free kick from 25-yards out. Wilson answered by working well though the midfield. In the 16th minute, Camryn Cruz played it off to Cade Mendoza who knocked a perfect through ball to Samantha Thompson. The senior charged down the right flank and bounced in the equalizer off the far post.
Ybarra and Wilson goalkeeper Olivia Herrera both made stellar saves to keep it 1-1 at halftime, and also made highlight stops in the second half as the game opened up.
The Jackrabbits went more direct and over the top to retake momentum in the second half. Adams poked home a rebound in the 57th minute to give Poly the lead, and Gomez stole the ball on the back line in the 63rd minute to make it 3-1. Five minutes later off a corner kick that Gomez earned, D’Anna finished a ball sent back in by Adams.
Wilson scored the last goal of the game in the 78th minute when Aoife Powell was taken down in the box and Cade Mendoza converted the resulting penalty kick. Mendoza led the Bruins with four shots on goal.
Poly travels to Cabrillo on Thursday while Wilson hosts Jordan. The Jackrabbits have their rematch with Millikan next Tuesday.
Shots: Wilson 19, Poly 12
Fouls: Poly 10, Wilson 6
Corner Kicks: Wilson 5, Poly 5
Offsides: Wilson 2, Poly 1