Soccer Wilson

Girls’ Soccer Preview: Wilson Bruins

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.

The Wilson Bruins are coming off an impressive Moore League title during which they beat top competitors Long Beach Poly and Millikan in one-goal games. 

“What got us our close wins was that we played together as one unit,” returning All-Moore League Goalkeeper of the Year Olivia Herrera said. “This year we need good communication and not in a toxic way. It’s about influencing the (new) girls to just play their hearts out and being positive because no one wants a negative leader yelling at them.”

That cohesiveness will be tested early as Wilson opens the season with games against Huntington Beach (Nov. 29), Marina (Dec. 1) and Long Beach Poly (Dec. 8) in the league opener. Second-year coach Brian Irvin said his program is still a work in progress despite the success.

“We’re still figuring out our expectations by tinkering (with lineups) in scrimmages,” Irvin said. “It’s all about balancing the girls coming from club and trying to set the tone with a good work ethic without overdoing it to avoid injuries.”

Obviously, Herrera is the most important of the six returning starters on the roster. The Arizona State commit had 13 clean sheets last season.

“When we have her leading the charge in the back I feel confident that we’re going to be in every game,” Irvin said of Herrera. “We didn’t win a lot of games by big margins, and she kept things close.”

Herrera also knows she needs to do a better job as a vocal leader with new players coming into the back line.

“We need a lot of team bonding to make sure they all feel welcome and we’re all one team,” Herrera said. “That chemistry is one of the most important aspects of soccer.”

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Center backs Kendall Bostre and Cindy Norfles are returning starters, and Alexis Rice will also be back after getting some good experience off the bench last season.

In front of them will be defensive midfielder Eleni Voulgaris, who changed multiple league games last year with her physicality and leadership.

The rest of the midfield will be led by Brooke Karatsu-Boteilho and Citlalli Sarahi Sanchez. Karatsu-Boteilho has been on Varsity since she was a freshman, and scored a goal in the first round of the playoffs last year. The crafty and skillful Sarahi Sanchez was a late-season JV call up last season.

Senior Reese Doherty and sophomore Leah Garcia will try to use their speed and skill to open up things offensively on the wings.

“She’s very dynamic and changes the game for us,” Irvin said of Doherty, who is committed to Cal. “She can go at girls, right or left. She’s also very dangerous on set pieces.”

Irvin is still looking for a reliable striker, and that could come next month when freshman Zoie Fontenot joins the team after spending time with a U15 USA National Team camp.

“I want to play stingy defense and be very possession oriented, and I think we have talent to do that,” Irvin said. “High school soccer isn’t the prettiest so you have to get results. I always want to dictate and manage the game, but when the physical game happens we have to match it and grind out wins.”

The off-field culture of his program is also very important to Irvin and his returning starters.

“I want the team to be a hardworking, fun, tightly knit group that will do anything for each other and it’s still a work in progress,” he said. “We have these team bonding activities that we do and that’s when I lean on my returners… I believe we’re going to have a target on our backs. I think we surprised some people by winning Moore League and people will be gunning for us.”

Wilson has won three of the last six league titles. 

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.