The562’s soccer coverage for the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Beach Futbol Club.
The562’s coverage of Lakewood Athletics is sponsored by J.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.
The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.
A complete performance on Friday night earned Millikan a massive 2-0 victory at Lakewood that gives the Rams a stranglehold on the Moore League boys’ soccer championship race.
Millikan (11-4-6, 6-1-2) just needs wins over Compton and Jordan next week to clinch its first league title since 2018. The victory over Lakewood finishes off a tough week for the Rams that included draws against Wilson and Poly.
“I think we concentrated more as a team…We were ready to win this game coming off two ties,” Millikan’s Juan Vasquez said. “The coaches told us it wasn’t going to be an easy game, but everyone played together, we kept our heads and finished our chances.”
Vasquez put Millikan ahead with a goal in the 35th minute, and Jalen Segal doubled the lead in the 62nd minute while the Rams defense limited Lakewood to just one shot on goal.
“We’re not trying to let the forwards do anything,” Millikan defender Isaac Machuca said. “In the past years we’ve always had clean sheets and a great defense. I feel like we have to keep that standard. We have to meet that level of expectation and we have to put it down.”
It is the 11th clean sheet of the season for goalkeeper Riley Cabarles and the Rams backline of Machuca, Orlando Rost, Danyal Showe and Connor Cummings
“I think we have the best back line in the league,” Vasquez added. “Even after a mistake they’ve got each other’s backs and they support each other and work together.”
Millikan outshot Lakewood 11-7 but didn’t get a shot on goal until the half hour mark. A few minutes later, the Rams earned their first corner kick. Kekoa Kukahiko headed the ball back into the box where Vasquez headed it home.
“I saw (Kukahiko) come in out of nowhere with a header and I knew I could beat the keeper so I just jumped up and put it in the back of the net,” said Vasquez, who was also key to the Millikan defensive performance from his holding midfield position.
“He’s so good on the ball and his height allows him to win headers and compete for those balls,” Millikan coach Jeff Schofield said of Vasquez. “He’s got a soccer brain. He understands the game, that’s for sure.”
Lakewood (7-2-6, 4-2-4) nearly equalized on its first corner kick just before halftime, but Angel Raya’s shot was cleared off the line by Vasquez.
“(Millikan) did a good job slowing the game down and finding the gaps in-between us,” Lakewood coach Alex Diaz said. “And then they did a good job of closing us down and not giving us time and space. If we could’ve slowed the game down a bit I think we would’ve been okay, but they played the better game and deserved to win.”
Millikan’s Jacob Chavez created the second goal just after the hour mark but cutting across the 18-yard box, and then passing the ball back to Segal who sent it home with a sliding first touch.
“They knew what a good team Lakewood was and knew they had to play well today,” Schofield said.
The Rams play Compton on Monday and Jordan on Wednesday of next week after beating those two teams by a combined score of 11-0 in the first round of league play.
Lakewood visits Cabrillo and Poly next week.