This year’s group of Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits will go down as the first ever Moore League lacrosse champions, and Poly is now one win away from an unbeaten season. The Jackrabbits won their final home game of the year, 10-6, over their rival Wilson Bruins on Monday evening.
Poly has gone 6-0 against Wilson and Millikan this season, and has one more game against the Rams to close out the year. But regardless of how Tuesday’s meeting finishes, Poly will need to make room for a new championship banner inside the Ron Palmer Pavilion.
“I’m just super proud of how hard they’re working,” said first-year head coach Milan Moliere of the team’s performance. “They’re very disciplined, they listen to the coaches, they’re the best group of boys I could ask for. We have a good strong brotherhood where they’re fighting for each other. That’s what a lot of teams don’t have is that good team chemistry and that’s what’s making us successful right now.”
Poly was led by four goals from junior Gavin Cuellar, with three of those tallies coming after halftime. The Jackrabbits jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on goals from Canon Carillo and Je’shawn Walker, but Wilson charged back to tie the game at 3-3 after the opening quarter.
At that point, Wilson’s offense went quiet and Poly’s senior goalie Kyle Johnson took the game over. Johnson made seven of his 15 saves in the second quarter to hold the Bruins off the scoreboard. That was part of a nearly 23-minute scoreless stretch for Wilson spanning from the end of the first to the end of the third.
“Knowing this is our last game here at Poly, we really wanted to show out, so I was in the cage doing the best I could,” said Johnson after the game. The senior was also thrilled to have the chance to finally win a Moore League championship in his final season. “We’ve been waiting to get this Moore League thing official since I got here as a freshman, so being a part of this first team, that name is going to be on the trophy, all of us really appreciate it. This is what we’ve been working for for multiple years now. It’s just an unreal feeling to finish off the season like this.”
During that scoreless stretch for Wilson, Poly scored five unanswered goals to take a commanding 8-3 lead, and the Bruins never got closer than four the rest of the day. Poly took advantage of a five-minute penalty called against Wilson midway through the third quarter. The Jackrabbits held a 5-3 lead at that point, but utilized the one-player advantage offensively to go on a 3-0 run and take the five-goal lead.
Cuellar scored twice in that five minute span and Christopher “Noodles” Nolan O’Brien scored one of his two goals as well.
“We did well on cuts, and we’re mainly a second half team,” explained Cuellar after the win. “That’s where we score most of our goals and we just have a great attack right now.”
Ethan McMahon and Flynn Nulty each had a pair of goals for Wilson while Mathias Valenzuela-Mier and Eli Vance added one goal each. Noah Bruce also had a solid day in goal for the Bruins.
Carillo scored a pair of goals for Poly and Griffin Jeannette added a goal and two assists for the Jackrabbits.
This was the final game for Wilson this year, meanwhile Poly will finish its season on Tuesday, visiting the Millikan Rams at 4 p.m.