For the second time in less than a week, Wilson girls’ soccer got the result it needed against Millikan despite getting dominated statistically.
Last week at home, the Bruins scored a 2-1 win over the Rams to get back into the Moore League title hunt. Then on Wednesday night at Millikan, Wilson played well enough to earn a 0-0 draw that puts them back on top of the league.
Wilson (9-1-1) only needs to beat Jordan at home on Friday (4:30 p.m.) to officially clinch its third league championship in the last six seasons. It will also be the 13th title in the last 21 years for the Bruins.
“It means a lot,” Wilson junior Eleni Voulgaris said. “Having to watch (Millikan) win consecutively, and with the three-peat jackets, we just couldn’t let them get a four-peat jacket. That would be embarrassing.”
Millikan (8-1-2) was trying to clinch its fourth consecutive league title with a victory over the Bruins. The Rams outshot the visitors 13-5 in the game and had earned six corner kicks.
“We had two chances, two games against them and we couldn’t get one win,” Millikan coach Tino Nunez said. “But what more can you ask of (our) group? They came out and fought hard. They applied the game plan and created plenty of chances to win and win a championship… the ball didn’t go in the back of the net.”
Wilson goalkeeper Olivia Herrera followed up her phenomenal performance last week with five saves on Wednesday. The most impressive one was in the 69th minute when Millikan’s Sierra Sythe crossed the ball in for Josie English at the far side post. Her redirected shot was saved by the outstretched hand of a diving Herrera.
“I knew I was going to save it,” Herrera said. “I was in the perfect set position. I saw (English) was open, and I had to explode and go for the ball. I wasn’t going to let Millikan score a last minute goal on us.”
Both coaches praised Herrera after the game.
“When we have Liv in goal we’re going to be in every game,” Wilson coach Brian Irvin said. “I believe she’s an MVP candidate for the league. I don’t know what else to say. She’s amazing.”
“Credit to their goalkeeper, she’s been great in both matches,” Nunez added. “There’s your goalkeeper of the year right there. She’s a beast.”
Millikan enjoyed the lion’s share of possession throughout the game, but couldn’t get a quality shot on goal until the 27th minute when Alissey Fang forced Herrera to make a save from distance. Wilson only had two shots in the first half.
Irvin changed Wilson’s formation to a 4-5-1 in order to flood the midfield, and it worked in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, but when Sythe came back on the field around the 50th minute the whole game changed.
Sythe suffered an injury during training so she wasn’t 100 percent and didn’t play her usual minutes. However, the Wake Forest commit still looked spry on the left flank while creating chances like the one for English that Herrera saved.
There was a bit of controversy in the 52nd minute when Hannah Davy took a straight-away free kick from about 27 yards out. The senior sent a cracking shot off the bottom of the cross bar, and from certain video replay angles it looks like the ball may have bounced down and in before spinning away from goal.
“I saw (Herrera) step in front of it and I didn’t really get a good view but my (assistant coach) said he thought it went in,” Nunez said. “But it’s a tough one.”
Millikan didn’t have a quality shot on goal from inside the 18-yard box until English’s header, and the Wilson defense said communication was key to that success. It is Herrera’s 11th clean sheet of the season.
“I told my defenders to stay tight on their man to give them no space or time to shoot,” Herrera said.
“Any time anyone got the ball around the (18-yard box) me and our center back (Amaya Stewart) were both screaming immediately,” said Wilson’s holding midfielder Voulgaris. “We would say a name on who to go so they knew. We know Millikan has big shots and we weren’t going to allow any of those.”
“It’s a massive result even though it’s not a victory,” Irvin said. “It was a gutsy, grind it out type of result. They’re really good, and for us to have a win and tie against them speaks volumes of the girls buying into our hard work, professionalism and discipline.”
“Losing to Poly, and then having all of us get COVID, and having everything postponed was kind of a wake up call for us,” Voulgaris said. “It was like, ‘We can do this, and everything is against us so we just have to prove everyone wrong right now.’”
Wilson’s game against Jordan will be the last of the regular season.
CIF Southern Section playoff brackets will be released on Tuesday morning. Millikan only has three losses this season and is ranked No. 9 in the Division 1 poll. Wilson is ranked No. 7 in Division 2.