The562’s soccer coverage for the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Beach Futbol Club.
The top four Moore League boys’ soccer teams will start the 2023 CIF Southern Section playoffs in two divisions. The first round is Thursday.
Millikan and Cabrillo are in Division 3 while Long Beach Poly and Wilson will compete in Division 2.
Both Poly and Wilson are on the road for the first round as the Jackrabbits visit Palos Verdes and the Bruins travel to Corona Santiago.
Poly (7-4-8) only lost one of its last seven league games to finish third in league. The Jackrabbits bounced back from a disappointing home loss to rival Wilson and used a regular season ending draw with Lakewood to clinch the playoff spot.
“We knew what we needed to do (to make the postseason),” said Poly goalkeeper Amir Diaz-Espinoza after making a handful of saves against Lakewood. “As a senior and goalkeeper I took responsibility in doing what I needed to do.”
Palos Verdes (12-6-3) finished second in the Bay League after winning six of its last seven games. In terms of common opponents, the Sea Kings lost to Cabrillo and beat Wilson earlier this season.
Poly lost in the first round of the playoffs last year.
Wilson (7-8-4) has survived a challenging season full of injuries and elite competition, but the Bruins are starting to find their stride once again after winning both of their games in the final week to finish fourth. Wilson is defending league champions.
“Playoffs are here and we are playing our best soccer,” Wilson coach CJ Brewer said. “I’m rooting for all of our Moore League teams in the playoffs. It’s Long Beach vs. Everybody!”
Corona Santiago (11-6-3) won the Big VII League by winning eight of its last 10 games. The Sharks did it with good defense while only allowing 26 goals this season. However, they’ve struggled to score with a 1.4 goals per game average.
The Bruins reached the second round of the Division 1 bracket last year.
Moore League champion Millikan is at home for the first round against La Quinta while Cabrillo visits Claremont.
Millikan (13-4-7) won its first league championship since 2018 and is riding high headed into the playoffs on a three-game winning streak. The Rams haven’t lost since Jan. 9.
“These last three games we had to win them all so we basically won three playoff games in a row,” Millikan coach Jeff Schofield said. “(The high emotions in league play) does help us at times when we’re doing well, but it hurts us when we’re struggling because there’s times we struggled this season.”
Schofield added that finding his team unique ways of connecting off the field has improved their chemistry.
“We did yoga as a team, and (the day before the league clinching win over Jordan) we had a session and it was unbelievable,” Schofield said. “The guys were so focused. I think that’s part of their ability to be calm and vulnerable together. That’s been great for them.”
La Quinta (14-4-5) is the champion out of the Desert Empire League and scored 60 goals this season with its big-powered offense. Junior Kevin Franjic scored a team-high 16 goals this season.
Millikan has only won two of its last seven playoff games since winning the title in 2018.
Cabrillo (16-3-3) scored an impressive 76 goals this season while allowing 28 goals. If a few moments went the other way late in the season, the Jaguars would’ve won their first league title since 2016.
“I think the soccer is just as smooth, and maybe even a little faster, but we’ve given up stupid goals,” Cabrillo coach Pat Noyes said, comparing this team to his other championship squads. “We’ve made little mistakes that have hurt us. If we didn’t give up that late goal to Poly we’d be league champions.”
Claremont (13-1-6) won the Palomares League thanks to a stingy defense that only allowed 13 goals this season.
The Jaguars haven’t won a postseason game since winning a CIF State Regional title in 2019.