The lacrosse season should be an exciting one in the city after a great spring season and the return of a couple of schools who didn’t field teams last year. Cabrillo and Lakewood have added both boys and girls teams, while Poly added a girls team. Poly’s boys squad won the league championship last year and even won the city’s first playoff game ever in the sport.
After only having three teams last year, the Moore League will have six boys teams with Ellen Ochoa from Pico Rivera joining Cabrillo, Lakewood, Millikan, Poly, and Wilson.
Matt Hardin will be coaching both the boys and girls teams at Lakewood during its inaugural year. Hardin said seniors Kade Wu and Aidan Wilder are two players he is excited to watch. Wu is the “most skilled” player according to Hardin with a hockey background.
“He is able to make great things happen between the lines and he creates amazing opportunities for the boys alongside him,” Hardin said.
Wilder was on the school’s football team and is the leader of the lacrosse squad after being named team captain. He’s the team’s starting goalie.
“His presence, voice, skill, and leadership are all top-notch and I can’t wait to see how that pans out for us this season,” Hardin said.
Millikan returns senior Collin Hatton, who was an All-Moore League honoree last year.
After leading Poly to a Moore League championship, Milan Moliere is coaching the girls team this year and the Jackrabbits recently announced John Gabriel as the boys head coach.
Gabriel is currently the President of Beach Cities Youth lacrosse Club, a youth program in Southern California. He was previously an assistant coach at New England College (2011) and Whittier College (2013, 2014, 2016) and was an NCAA All-American at New England College in 2011. He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame for both lacrosse and soccer.
The Jackrabbits return at least five players from last year.
Wilson finished second in the league last year and coach Sal Cipolla brings back plenty of returners.
Among those returners include All-Moore League honoree Noah Bruce, who will be playing in goal. Flynn Nulty, Opie Romero, and Harrison McElwain will also play up front.
Only Millikan and Wilson were able to field a girls lacrosse team last year, but like the boys side, there will be five Long Beach teams with Cabrillo, Lakewood, and Poly fielding squads. Ochoa meanwhile will be without a team for the second consecutive season.
Hardin said the goal at Lakewood for the inaugural season is to continue to “grow” the game on campus and “get as many student-athletes as we can”.
Senior Jaelyn Tuinei is the team’s captain.
“She brings the intensity and game management from the rugby side of life, which has been fun to watch,” Hardin said.
Freshman Leslie Gonzalez has a “bright” future and Hardin said he hopes to build the program athletes like Gonzalez for the next four years.
Poly is “itching” to get back on the field according to Moliere after not being able to field a team last year. The Jackrabbits will be led by Cristiana Godinez, who played with the boys team in 2021. Godinez is a defender and team captain.
“We’re working hard to build up team chemistry and get ready to compete again,” Moliere said.
Wilson will have first-year coach Vic Escoto at the helm.
The lacrosse season officially begins on Feb. 12 but the first Moore League contest isn’t until March 17.