Long Beach Poly Soccer

Girls’ Soccer: Long Beach Poly Falls in First Round to Huntington Beach

Long Beach Poly was fresh off a crisp, determined performance in its regular season finale against Wilson last Thursday, but the Jackrabbits didn’t look quite like themselves during Wednesday’s first round playoff loss against Huntington Beach. The visitors controlled the action from the get-go, and secured a 2-1 win to open the CIF-SS Division I playoffs at Cabrillo High School.

“We were just a little off out of the gate,” said Poly head coach Anthony Perez of his team’s performance. “Just coming out I think we started on the wrong foot. I think that’s what happened in that first half. We talked about some things, made some adjustments and played a little better in the second, but at this time of the year if you don’t get out on the front foot, these are quality teams we’re going to face. It really comes down to who puts it together and unfortunately they did that today and not us.”

The Oilers stormed out of the gate in the first 20 minutes and were ultimately rewarded with the first goal of the evening. A perfectly played through ball in the middle of the field went from Isabella Walsh to forward Jaiden Anderson in plenty of space. The freshman Anderson took a touch around Poly goalkeeper Kira Ybarra and finished into an open net.

Huntington Beach outshot Poly 8-1 in the first half with seven of those attempts ending up on target. In total, the visitors outshot the Jackrabbits 17-5 and also had a 9-3 advantage in corner kicks. Ybarra was active in goal and made six of her 10 saves in the first half.

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After halftime, the Oilers continued to out-possess the Jackrabbits and win the battles in the midfield. Huntington Beach took the first six shots after halftime and doubled its lead seven minutes after intermission. Jordan Bailey made a terrific run along the right side of the field and sent in a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar. It fell to Hannah Petteys who centered it for a waiting Anderson who tapped in her second goal of the match.

“We finished the season strong to get second place in our league and it continued tonight in our play,” said assistant head coach Brad Hornback, who was filling in for head coach Raul Ruiz. “We believe that if our girls came out and played how we can play, we could win this game. Poly’s good, we scouted them, and you could see the way we battled back. We came out and got the high energy start, but it was only a matter of time, we knew the storm was coming. We knew we were going to have to fight and to me, the competitiveness of the last few weeks of our training, that set us up to weather the storm.”

That storm arrived in earnest in the 62nd minute when the Jackrabbits were able to find a lifeline on a corner kick. Isabella Yakel’s delivery was deflected into the air by Kelsey Adams towards the back post, where a waiting Misha Hebert came flying in for a header to cut HB’s lead in half. It was just Poly’s third shot of the game, but gave them a chance to come back with around 18 minutes left to play.

Poly was able to have more possession as they fought back for the tie, but couldn’t create another compelling chance against the Oilers defense.

Poly’s season ends with an 8-2-1 overall record and a share of the Moore League championship. Meanwhile Huntington Beach will visit Mater Dei on Friday in the second round.

VIDEO: Long Beach Poly vs. Huntington Beach, Girls’ Soccer

PHOTOS: Long Beach Poly vs. Huntington Beach, Girls’ Soccer

Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.
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