Long Beach Poly Soccer

Boys’ Soccer: Long Beach Poly Plays to Exciting Draw With Hart in Season Opener

The562’s soccer coverage for the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Beach Futbol Club.

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.

It wasn’t the lineup that Long Beach Poly head coach Eric Leon had imagined for the 2022-23 season opener, but there were a number of strong performances for his Jackrabbits as they played to an entertaining 2-2 draw with Hart on Monday evening.

Poly was without several starters who hadn’t yet been cleared for the new season, leaving Leon with a very inexperienced starting lineup and only a few substitutes on the bench. With those challenges, Poly took the lead in each half and ultimately shared the spoils with one of the top teams in Division 3.

“The outcome was fair. I think that at moments we were the better team, but they could say the same,” said Leon after the draw. “I’m happy. I’m proud of their performance. I think we played well given that it’s our first game.”


Leon gave credit to his two center backs–senior Matthew Jenkins and sophomore Logan Herrejon–who he’d expected to be coming off the bench this season but were thrust into a starting role and played well for the full 80 minutes. Poly also got a strong performance from junior Steve Marquez in midfield as well as a trio of freshman call-ups: Damian Gonzalez, Luis Quintero and Daniel Silva.

Poly started its season in perfect fashion, creating and finishing a chance in the game’s opening minute. Some deft passing between Gonzalez and Marquez led to a perfect through ball for sophomore Roberto Bermudez, who calmly slotted home his finish to give Poly an immediate lead.

The Jackrabbits enjoyed the majority of the chances in the first half, but Hart did find an equalizer after a flurry of shots in the 17th minute. Poly goalkeeper Amir Diaz-Espinoza made a couple of saves on the initial try, then off a Hart corner he was able to parry away a couple more tries before Hart’s Braden Krusey finally pushed home a third rebound attempt.

Still, Leon was encouraged by how his team played in the first 40 minutes, winning the ball and putting pressure on Hart’s defenders.

“I think the first half is a reflection of what we're going to be as a team,” said Leon. “We were fresh, so the first half, it was a little more of a sign of what we can do. We couldn’t produce as much offense in the second half, but the first half was definitely a sign of what we can do offensively.”

The Jackrabbits showed fatigue after halftime, but got a golden opportunity in the 73rd minute and didn’t waste it. After Zachary Del Vecchio earned a free kick, Bermudez teed it up for Joshua Cholico in the middle of the penalty area, who put home a tidy finish off the volley to give the Jackrabbits a 2-1 lead.

Unfortunately for Poly, the visitors had the answer on a set piece of their own. After Poly was called for a foul, Hart’s senior captain Trenton Rickard stepped over the ball and unleashed a furious strike that whizzed past Diaz-Espinoza and into the top corner of the net.

That moment of individual brilliance tied the match at 2-2 with less than five minutes to play, and both teams seemingly walked away satisfied with the result.

Poly will be back at home on Wednesday evening, hosting Norwalk at 6 p.m. as the Jackrabbits remain in search of their first win of the young season. Hart (1-1-1) will host Monroe on Wednesday afternoon in their next contest.

VIDEO: Long Beach Poly vs. Hart, Boys’ Soccer
Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.