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.
Because the boys’ soccer race has been so tight in the Moore League this year, the championship and playoff scenarios have been quite complex. Things were very simple for Wilson Monday night though, as the Bruins visited Poly for a big match to open the final week of league play against their rivals: win and survive, or lose and end your season.
The Bruins played like their season was at stake against the Jackrabbits, and came away with an impressive 2-1 victory.
“We challenged them, and they responded, they played like their lives were on the line,” said Wilson coach CJ Brewer. “We knew they had this in them all year. This is one big step in the right direction.”
The victory means that Wilson’s playoff path remains quite simple: if they beat Compton on Wednesday, they’re guaranteed a spot in the playoffs as the Moore League’s fourth seed. That’s not an assumed result, as the Bruins lost to Compton in the opening round; but it’s a simple path, and one they’re capable of walking. The math is just as simple for Poly: they have to turn around and beat or draw with a very talented Lakewood team on Wednesday to get into the postseason.
“We’re upset at the result,” said Poly coach Eric Leon. “It’s an emotional game when we play them and sometimes we can forget our DNA. Wilson was resilient, they kept at it. At this point all we can do is remain positive and figure it out over the next two days.”
The victory came on the foot of Lucca Pires, who scored in the 6th and 54th minutes to lift his team to a win.
“It was win or go home for us,” he said. “We knew if we didn’t win, CIF was over. Our seniors are too talented to not make the playoffs and everyone came in with a must-win mentality. No excuses.”
The Bruins came out playing desperate, and Pires gave his squad a 1-0 lead early on. The Jackrabbits would answer back with a smooth PK by Roque Alvarez in the 50th minute–the only ball anyone snuck by Bruins keeper Gavin Pool-Harris all night.
But Pires and the Bruins didn’t wait long, responding almost immediately with a second score by Pires to put them back up 2-1.
“When they scored that one I was looking around, like ‘Let’s get our heads up and let’s GO, we’ve got 30 minutes, we can do this, keep the energy up,’” said Pires, who was an emotional spark on the field for his team.
Pires has been playing defensive center-mid all year, but Brewer credited assistant coach Doug Fatone with a shift in strategy.
“We know he can finish really well–we haven’t produced a lot of goals this year, it’s been frustrating,” said Brewer. “But we knew we couldn’t tie–we had to play to win. So we had fewer defenders in the back, throw the house at them, put Lucca up there. And Lucca said what Doug said he’d do and finished. We put all our chips on red, that’s what we had to do today.”
Poly had chances after that, but Pool-Harris was able to calmly turn them away to bring home the critical victory, as Pires’ brace stood up to give Wilson the W.
Both teams now find themselves in a similar situation: get a win Wednesday and go through, or else end up hoping for the best from another result.