Long Beach Poly Millikan Water Polo

Girls’ Water Polo: Millikan Tops Long Beach Poly 

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The Millikan girls’ water polo team has high expectations this year, and with good reason. The Rams are off to a great start and have played Division 1 and 2 teams tough, and are currently ranked No. 1 in the CIF-SS Division 3 poll. The Rams haven’t won a Moore League championship since 2006 but they proved themselves worthy of a title shot with a 6-3 victory over Long Beach Poly on Wednesday evening.

“This group is something special, I’m telling you right now,” said Rams coach Jose Guzman. “They’re one in the rankings and they’re playing pretty tough. It’s all them, these girls are incredible.”

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The Rams and Jackrabbits were playing in one of the few sporting events not canceled in the city, with a host of basketball and soccer games (plus a water polo game) canceled by COVID-19 positive tests. Millikan and Poly didn’t have some mysterious secret of how to avoid a shutdown, as both coaches said they had to deal with a pause or with quarantined players over the recent Winter Break.

“Winter break was hard for us,” said Guzman. “We didn’t pick up where we left off, but we got a great push. We love playing Poly, it’s a great rivalry that we have.”

The Rams got a tremendous game from leader Jennine Osorio, who had a hat trick along with eight steals and two assists. Faye Garcia added a goal and six steals, while Taylor Alexander had five steals to help anchor Millikan’s excellent defensive effort.

The Rams held Poly scoreless in the first half as they built a 1-0 lead after the first quarter on a long lob shot from Brittany Mendoza. The Rams scored another three times in the second to take a 4-0 lead at halftime behind goals from Osorio, Garcia, and Avery Jensen.

Poly answered back in the third with their first score of the game, a point-blank score from Julia Miller. Anna Mor put in a pair for the Jackrabbits in the fourth quarter as they outscored Millikan 3-2 in the second half.

“You know, I think there was a lot to be really happy about tonight,” said Poly coach Ryan Rockenbach. “The heart and th esprit they showed and the way they fought back in the second half.”

Rockenbach said Poly had two practices this week after two weeks out of the water, and that he was thrilled with how his team managed their conditioning during the break.

“Where I think it showed was some slight misses on passes, some little mistakes here and there,” he said. “But they’re the No. 1 team in our division and we were right there with them, I think that gives us a lot of confidence.”

Osorio said she and her teammates love their annual games against Poly.

“We always approach it like it’s the first round of CIF,” she said. “Everybody’s just really happy that we beat Poly and excited to see what we can do next.”

Poly will visit Wilson on Jan. 19 and the Rams will host the Bruins in what will likely be the Moore League championship game on Jan. 26.

VIDEO: Millikan vs. Long Beach Poly, Girls’ Water Polo

PHOTOS: Millikan vs Long Beach Poly Girls’ Water Polo

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.
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