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 Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.
Being great is one thing, sustaining greatness is an entirely different animal, and that’s where the Wilson boys’ soccer program finds itself this season.
The Bruins are coming off an undefeated Moore League championship season that saw them tie a league record for fewest goals allowed with three in 12 games. Wilson has won two of the last four league titles, and wants to take another step as a unit instead of resting on its laurels.
“We still want to have that hunter mentality and not be the hunted so we want to go to the next level,” Wilson coach CJ Brewer said. “Not just winning the league, but making a dent in the larger scope of things. The boys have set high goals.”
That starts with a challenging non-league schedule that includes games against top programs at Servite, Torrey Pines, De La Salle and Reedley. Servite was the CIF Southern Section Division 1 and CIF State champions last year. Torrey Pines won the Division 2 State title. De La Salle and Reedley won section championships as well.
“We’re playing arguably the hardest non-league schedule in California,” Brewer said. “We hope that the schedule will allow us to be better prepared for league, expose our players to the highest level of soccer available, and that some positive results in these games will help keep us in D1 for the playoffs. We want all the heat, our boys aren’t scared of anyone.”
Wilson is returning eight of 11 starters from last season including All-Moore League juniors Luke Garza and Ian Bond as well as league MVP Gavin Pool-Harris.
“I want to get back to that point and the feeling of that,” Pool-Harris said of what he took from last season. “I just want to do it all again.”
Pool-Harris will have to bring his defense together on and off the field because that’s where the three starters will need to be replaced, and Brewer said that six or seven players are in the running to earn those spots on the back line.
“Last year I played more of a backseat leader, I would lead more by example,” Pool-Harris said. “Now I have to be the vocal one. I have to be the one to say we should do the pushups before practice even if coach doesn’t tell us to. We have to do that stuff if we want to be good.”
The midfield and attack will be the strength of this Bruins unit with Garza, Bond, junior Joey Ragusa, senior Darwin Pelayo-Lopez, junior Lucca Pires and senior Co-Captain Manny Moreno all returning.
“It will be our strongest positional group,” Brewer said. “We are excited to see them continue to develop a style of play that stresses their strengths, speed and endurance.”
Brewer thinks getting his top five players to buy in and develop a new style after spending the last few months with different elite club teams.
“It’s about uniting,” Brewer said. “We’ve got a lot of great talented players who play high level soccer, It’s just about getting them to shake the Etch A Sketch with the formula they’ve gotten with their outside teams and develop our own style of play and unite around that. There’s a lot of ways to play soccer. We just have to find a way to accentuate our strengths.”