The girls’ soccer rivalry between Long Beach Poly and Wilson never needs added stakes in order to be entertaining, but Thursday’s meeting between the city’s oldest rivals carried some added significance for the Green & Gold. With a victory over the Bruins on Senior Night, the Jackrabbits could earn a share of the Moore League championship with Millikan.
Poly was led by senior Kelsey Adams, who opened the scoring in the 14th minute and had a pair of goals on the evening to propel the Jackrabbits to a 3-1 win, giving the program its first league title since 2016.
“This means so much, because it’s been five years since we’ve had the title back here,” said Poly head coach Anthony Perez after the win. “Poly and the athletics here, it’s excellence that we hold. So it’s super important that we get it back. That’s one of the things I told the girls, I said, ‘Look, we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare (for the season) but let’s dig in and see if we can at least get our hands on it and see if we can get that back.’ And they did their thing.”
Adams’ first goal came at the end of a terrific move orchestrated by junior Olivia D’Anna. She used a deft back-heel touch to lift the ball past one defender, controlled the ball to dribble around another, then slotted an inch-perfect through ball past a third Wilson defender into Adams’ path. From there, the Pepperdine signee still had plenty of work to do, but sent a dipping strike across the face of the goalkeeper and into the far netting for the goal.
“I knew going into it, we needed to get the first goal in order to set the tone,” said Adams after the match. “So right when we started it off, I knew we were gonna win. And me and Liv had been having combinations throughout the game, so it was just a matter of time.”
Adams added a second goal in the 52nd minute thanks to some sloppy play by the Wilson back line. On a goal kick, Adams was able to sneak in behind a defender for a takeaway, then put a second goal past Wilson keeper Olivia Herrera in the 52nd minute. That doubled Poly’s advantage and gave the Jackrabbits some valuable breathing room.
Just three minutes later, Poly added to its lead again on a long throw-in. Sarah-Eden Amara hurled the ball into Wilson’s penalty area, where the ball took a high bounce and sat up perfectly for an onrushing Cece Hallock to poke home above Herrera’s head. That gave Poly a dominant 3-0 lead with 25 minutes to play.
Wilson was able to pull one goal back in the 64th minute as Cade Mendoza converted a penalty kick, but the mountain was too large for the Bruins to overcome. Once the final whistle sounded, the Jackrabbits were able to celebrate their championship in earnest.
“We were so excited,” said Adams of the team’s emotions after the match. “Coming into this season, we were just gonna make the best of it. And the past two years, it’s been the same story. Millikan ends up getting a win and then they end up winning. So this was really important for us, especially as seniors winning our last game and last Moore League championship.”
Interestingly, this year’s shared title between Millikan and Poly is the first co-championship in Moore League girls’ soccer since 2001, when Poly and Lakewood shared the spoils.
The Bruins actually outshot the Jackrabbits 12-7 in the match and 8-4 after halftime, but Poly goalkeeper Kira Ybarra made all six of her saves after intermission to help protect the lead. Mendoza had a game-high five shots for Wilson with four of them on target. Emma Shiffer added three shot attempts for the Bruins.
Both teams will now await their postseason draw as the CIF-SS playoff brackets for girls’ soccer will be released on Saturday.