The562’s coverage of boys’ water polo is sponsored by Aquatic Capital of America Foundation.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Poly alum Jayon Brown and PlayFair Sports Management.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.
The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.
Long Beach Poly finished off the Moore League boys’ water polo regular season with a 22-1 win on Wednesday at Millikan. Despite the final score, the Jackrabbits got some good work in before the CIF Southern Section playoff brackets are announced on Saturday morning.
“We’re trying to sharpen and hone in on very specific skills,” Poly coach Ish Pluton said. “We’re trying to hold a standard for our counter attacks. Millikan really tried to catch us off guard with drives, and they have a good system that made us think and work and that’s what we need going into the postseason.”
Poly (19-8, 4-1) used a balanced attack to dominate the proceedings as 11 different Jackrabbits scored goals. That’s all but one player who was dressed out for the game, and Luke Cassiano led the way with six goals all in the first half.
“Ball movement in general and getting on the counter and being in the right place at the right time helped me get my goals,” Cassiano said. “We needed to move the ball around to create that space for opportunities.”
“He’s really come into his own this season and now he’s a strong presence,” Pluton said of Cassiano. “He was second or third off the bench and now he’s in the starting lineup. He’s got good vision for the game and he did a good job showcasing being in the right spot.”
Defensively, Poly focused on communicating through the high intensity drives that Millikan ran to keep the visitors switching. The Jackrabbits held their own while goalkeepers Sean Kerry and Mateo Morales combined for ten saves.
Millikan (9-15, 3-2) got its lone goal from Josh Ramos with 2:45 left until halftime when Poly already led 9-0. Rams goalkeeper Mazen Mendoza finished with 12 saves.
“When you’re young you still have a chance to see what it takes to win like today,” Millikan first-year coach Randy Wright said. “(Games like this) give you what the end should look like. It’s a lot easier to backwards map a goal than to find out where it should be. Hopefully we learned what it looks like to win today.”
All of the league games Poly has played this year have been lopsided affairs, but coach Pluton knows that close games are not what the league schedule is about.
“It’s a super awesome tradition between the Long Beach schools,” Pluton said. “We have a long history of playing each other. Is it tough when you play a team where there is an imbalance? Sure. But is there a rich history in a game against Millikan where a ton of people turn out? Absolutely. It’s about the community here in Long Beach.”
The Jackrabbits have been in the CIF-SS Division 2 Top 10 rankings for most of the season, and have had their best overall record under Pluton.
“I honestly think we can go all the way but it will be tough because there’s a lot of good Division 2 teams to go up against,” Cassiano said. “Winning last year was awesome momentum (for the program) and we’ve been working super hard to be a top team in the Division 2.”