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.
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.
Sometimes high school rivalries are so hotly contested that only the most naturally talented players can rise above the muck and the mire. So, it’s no surprise that players like Zoie Fontenot and Olivia Herrera led Wilson girls’ soccer to a 1-0 win at Long Beach Poly on Tuesday night.
Fontenot, a USA Youth National Team player, scored the only goal of the game in the 67th minute, and then Herrera, the 2022 Moore League Goalkeeper Of The Year, made a few clutch saves in the final minutes to secure the victory.
“I think we came in with a little more passion,” Herrera said. “Last game (against Poly) we lacked little confidence and this game we really wanted to win and compete. We just had more heart.”
Poly (6-5-1, 6-2-0) and Wilson (8-5-0, 5-2-0) are second and third place, respectively, in the Moore League. Both have games remaining against first-place Millikan (13-3-3, 8-0-0).
“It wasn’t the prettiest on our behalf but I’m proud of the girls, they got it done,” Wilson coach Brian Irvin said. “I told them we’re desperate, but not to play desperate, and we found a way to win.”
“We were very confident that we could come and win it,” the freshman Fontenot added. “We just had to stick to our game plan of playing the ball in behind more and using our forwards speed.”
The first half was played very evenly with only a couple scoring chances against Herrera and Poly goalkeeper Kennedy Justin, who finished with three saves. Herrera had six stops.
Early shots came off set pieces while the majority of shots from around the box were blocked by defenders. Poly’s Kiara Van Deusen and Wilson’s Daisy Guzman each had a pair of shots from distance before halftime.
“In soccer there’s always struggle in the game, you’ve just got to keep on pushing until you finally get your chance and you’ve got to take your opportunities when you have them,” Fontenot said of not getting a shot in the first half.
Fontenot and Poly’s Misha Hebert earned quality shots at goal in the first five minutes of the second half, but the next chance didn’t come until the 67th minute when Wilson’s Brooke Karatsu-Boteilho collected a turnover near midfield and played Fontenot through.
“I saw the gap between the defenders, and obviously Brooke saw it too,” Fontenot said. “She played the ball through and the goalie came out and I knew where to slot it right into the (far) corner.”
“She’s amazing,” Irvin said of Fontenot. “She’s on the youth national team for a reason. We go to her a lot and she’s come up in big moments. She’s only a freshman and we’re excited to have her for three more years.”
Poly responded well as Van Deusen and Aaya McLyn both put shots on goal in the final five minutes, but Herrera saw there to make the saves. She also made a pair of diving stops in the 87th minute off set pieces.
“You have to make sure you’re sharp to the last minute is key because you never know,” Herrera said. “It’s about having a good support system around you. If I’m nervous it’s going to make the whole team nervous. Having good leadership and supporting each other is a good way to get rid of the nerves.”
Poly had more of the ball down the stretch but still missed a few opportunities to pepper the Wilson goal.
“I thought we played really well for the most part, but we weren’t shooting and that extra touch kills you,” Poly coach Anthony Perez said.
“Last year we had the same amount of wins (6) after 11 games, but we lost two tough ones,” Irvin said. “We couldn’t find a way to win the tough ones, but we did tonight. Hopefully that sets us up for the second half of league and into the playoffs.”
“Going into (the next game against first-place Millikan) we need to have the same mentality as we did today,” Herrera said. “If we play as a team we stand a good chance.”
Poly visits Millikan next Tuesday, and Wilson will travel to face the Rams the Tuesday after that.