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It took less than 15 seconds for the Millikan Rams to score the first goal of their 2022 playoff run against La Quinta High on Tuesday night. The top-seeded Rams eventually took their foot off the gas, but not before putting the rest of the CIF-SS Division 3 bracket on notice with a dominant 23-3 win in round one.
Millikan hardly broke a sweat over the first 2:50 of game time while racking up an immediate 8-0 lead. The visiting Blackhawks did break up the Rams’ scoring outburst with a five-meter penalty shot midway through the first, but that only delayed the inevitable.
The Rams led 12-1 after the first quarter and 18-2 at halftime before shelving their offensive attack and cruising to the 20-point triumph.
“They were very, very focused going into it. They want it, they really do,” said Millikan head coach Jose Guzman of how his team performed. “It’s very easy for a coach to just coordinate everything when your team wants to win a championship. I didn’t expect it to be this outcome, I thought it was gonna be a little closer. I give a lot of respect to La Quinta, but it just shows that we’ve got it dialed in now.”
The Rams weren’t only prolific on Tuesday night in their home pool, they were efficient. Millikan scored on each of its first 19 shot attempts and ended up converting 24 shots into 23 goals—a staggering 95.8% shot efficiency.
A quintet of Rams shared top scoring honors as Taylor Alexander, Leila Darby, Avery Jensen, Lindsay Arbing and Larsen Jensen each recorded hat tricks for Millikan. The rest of the eight goals came from Brittany Mendoza (2 goals, 4 steals), Faye Garcia (2 goals), Billie Faustina (2 goals), Angelina Keller and Jennine Osorio.
“We’re trying to prove that we’re good enough to win CIF,” said Avery Jensen after the win. “We’re all really good friends and that makes us play a lot better together. We’re really excited and we’re going to try our best to win.”
It was clear early on how the game would go, but the Rams still did a nice job of executing on fundamentals, according to Guzman. He’s pleased with his team’s mental focus, cohesiveness as a group, and overall water polo IQ. As the top seed in the bracket, it’s easy to understand why the team’s focus and expectations are squarely on a CIF title.
“What I love about this group is they’re so close,” Guzman said. “They are just determined for a win or for a better outcome. They just want to be competitive and again, it’s easy when you have a group like that. So I hope it takes us all the way to the finals and then to a championship.”
The Rams will be on the road for Thursday’s second round, visiting Palos Verdes Peninsula. If the Rams can pick up a win there, the Division 3 quarterfinals will be played on Saturday.