The Millikan Rams were not short on motivation entering Wednesday night’s match against Cabrillo. Coming off a 1-0 defeat in their Moore League opener against Wilson, the visiting Rams were in need of a result to ensure they wouldn’t head into winter break at the bottom of the Moore League table.
Millikan came out with the upper hand and put home the first and only goal on a cold night on the West Side, as Samani Villanueva netted the game-winner in the 17th minute.
“I feel like after our big loss against Wilson, I think that really motivated us,” said Villanueva after the match. “As soon as I saw (teammate David Villanueva) get the ball, I was hungry for the goal. I know we needed it. I know I needed it. And it feels good to give us three points. You know, every one counts.”
Millikan head coach Jeff Schofield was pleased with his team’s improvement from their first league game to the second, especially with how they controlled the game over the first 40 minutes.
“I thought we played much better than we did on Monday,” Schofield said. “We were a little more focused and had a good talk yesterday with the group and they understood the importance of the game, which I sometimes think they don’t always do. So I’m happy with that and I thought we controlled the game really well in the first half.”
The breakthrough for the Rams came courtesy of a Cabrillo turnover in the middle of the field. Samani Villanueva played the ball out to the right wing for David Villanueva (no relation), who waited for Samani to make his run and floated a ball into his path in the middle of the Cabrillo penalty area. The senior took one touch with his left foot to control the cross, then slotted the ball home with his right foot to give the Rams the decisive 1-0 advantage.
While Millikan had control of the proceedings in the first half, Cabrillo was struggling to find its rhythm. Head coach Pat Noyes and assistant coach David Rivas voiced their displeasure with the team during the halftime break to try to turn things around from a sluggish first half.
“I don’t think we prepared in the beginning of the game well, I don’t think we warmed up long enough or appropriate enough,” Noyes said of his team. “And people were whining and moaning and groaning at each other. So Rivas and I both talked at halftime about the best teams are ones that fight for each other, not against each other. So we were both kind of at them for whining and complaining, and when we came out in the second half I really didn’t hear that. They fought for each other.”
That fight resulted in more chances, especially for standout forward Martin Ruiz, who logged two dangerous strikes on goal within the first 15 minutes after halftime. Millikan goalkeeper Byron Hernandez was up to the task, pushing one up over the crossbar while punching the other to safety.
Millikan nearly doubled its lead in the 56th minute as David Villanueva put home a goal but was ruled offside. That was one of four offside calls against the Rams, with three coming in the first half.
As time ticked away, the Rams’ defense consolidated behind the ball and swarmed Ruiz–Cabrillo’s most dangerous playmaker–every time he touched the ball.
“We obviously talked about how to deal with (Ruiz), and I was happy with how we did that,” Schofield said. “He can make somebody miss, so we’ve got to make sure we have somebody else in there. And I thought especially late, we did a good job of recovering and getting more numbers around to help out. We defended great, the guys made some good tackles and did a good job.”
Hernandez was asked to make just two saves as the Rams were able to secure their second clean sheet of the season and pick up their first win in Moore League play.
Both teams will get some time off before returning to league action at the start of the new year. Cabrillo will host Lakewood and Millikan will host Jordan on Jan. 5.