The562’s season previews for the 2022-23 school year are sponsored by Vertical Raise, the official team fundraising partner of The562.
The562’s soccer coverage for the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Beach Futbol Club.
The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.
For most of the 40 years that the Moore League has offered boys’ soccer, Millikan has been the bully on the block. The Rams won 10 of 11 league titles from 2008 to 2018, and had only had one five-year stretch without a league title, back in the 1980s. But the program that has won more than half of the Moore League titles ever hasn’t won in four years, having to sit by and watch Wilson and Poly each celebrate a pair of titles. This year, coach Jeff Schofield and an experienced group of players hopes to get back to the top of the ladder in Long Beach.
“I’m excited with this group, it’s the first group that I had as freshman since I started, guys I’ve been able to work with since the beginning,” said Millikan coach Jeff Schofield.
The Rams have a great mix of experienced returners and talented newcomers, including their leading goal-scorer from last year David Villanueva, and the reigning Moore League Defensive Player of the Year Isaac Machuca.
“I have really high hopes for this year, I feel we’re going to come in with intensity and bring the heat,” said Machuca. “We’re going to put it all down on the line. We’ve got speed and we’ve got offense. Our forwards have a lot of pace.”
Villanueva will be joined up top by the Rams’ second-leading goal-scorer from last year, junior Aaron De Leon, an attacker who was moved up from JV mid-season and ended up earning all-league honors.
In the midfield Dylan Salguero and Juan Vasquez will be the key pieces, while the Rams will continue to play the hard-nosed defense they’ve been known for over the last several decades. Machuca is the anchor of the backline, but junior Orlando Rost and academy player Brandon Tuck will help lock it down as well.
In goal, junior Riley Cabarles will be the starter--he was part of a talented goalie rotation last year and got time in half of the Rams’ league games.
For Schofield, the biggest key for the Rams is going to be consistency.
“Our league is really tough top to bottom, especially in the last two years there really are just not easy games,” he said. “You have to be ready to play and compete in every game--that’s hurt us the last two years. Two years ago we lost the league title by one point and had a couple of ties against teams in the bottom half. We have to take care of business in those games. Our kids naturally get up for Poly and Wilson, but we’ve got to find ways to be prepared to compete in every game.”
Obviously the team’s focus is on the league schedule, with the Rams hosting Cabrillo on Friday, Dec. 16 at 5:15 p.m. to open things up. Their first three league games are against the Jaguars, Bruins, and Jackrabbits in the span of less than a week, meaning Schofield’s team will know where they stand right away.
But regardless of how league play goes, the Rams are also in Division 3 for the CIF Southern Section playoffs this year, opening the door for them to make a postseason run as well. They’re on the 15-team preseason Watchlist released by the CIF-SS earlier this month.
“We have a talented group, I’m happy with how summer and fall training went,” said Schofield. “The guys like each other but there’s enough of that desire to win and be successful that I think they can pull each other along.”