Cabrillo Lacrosse Lakewood Long Beach Poly Millikan Wilson

Moore League Boys’ Lacrosse Preview

The562’s season previews for the 2022-23 school year are sponsored by Vertical Raise, the official team fundraising partner of The562.

In two seasons of boys’ lacrosse, the Moore League has produced two different champions. After Long Beach Poly claimed the inaugural title in 2021, Millikan went unbeaten in league play to take the crown in 2022. Will one of those two programs win their second championship, or will one of the five challengers rise to the top of the standings in 2023?

The league continues to expand, with Compton High and Downey High making it a seven-team Moore League this season for the first time ever. That means there’s an additional playoff spot up for grabs, with the top four teams in the league getting guaranteed playoff berths at the end of the year.

Millikan will need to replace co-League Player of the Year Collin Hatton and goalie Cooper Robinson, among others, but there’s also plenty of returning All-League talent still in the program.

Junior Bennett Hreschuk was a second team All-Moore League selection last season and should have an even larger role this year. He had four goals and three assists in Millikan’s non-league win over El Modena. Enzo Nunez was First Team All-Moore League last season and is another top weapon for the Rams, along with returners Eliot Birney, Mateo Venegas, Derek Nickell, and others.

The Rams were one of three playoff teams out of the Moore League last season in Division 3, but fell to Orange Lutheran in the first round of the CIF playoffs. Millikan will not only look to defend their league title in 2023, but also pick up the program’s first ever playoff win.

Wilson will also try to build off their playoff appearance from 2022, and have a strong core of returners with both talent and experience. Senior Noah Bruce is a veteran last line of defense between the pipes, with a quartet of returning All-Moore League players in front of him.

Seniors Shane Heiman and Brock Cruz will hold down the Bruins defense, while senior Nate Donovan will command the midfield and junior Harrison McElwain is back as an attacker.

“These boys have good stick skills, play aggressively, are quick on their feet, and have good game knowledge and leadership skills,” said Wilson head coach Sal Cipolla. “We expect to make it to the CIF playoffs again this year. The team that wins is always the team that scoops up the most ground balls, wins the most face-offs, has the least amount of turnovers, penalties and injuries, and is in the best condition. That’s our goal.”

The numbers are up over at Long Beach Poly, where second-year head coach John Gabriel has enough players in the program to also field a JV team this season. The team will be young, but Gabriel believes there’s potential to win both now and into the future.

“It’s definitely looking like a promising season for us. We’re still kind of in that building mode with a lot of freshmen, and a lot of sophomores,” Gabriel said of this year’s team. “There’s a core group of sophomores right now that I’m really excited about, and by the time they’re seniors I think we’re going to be going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Moore League, but I still think this year we’re going to be contending.”

Seniors Jack Pryor and Nick Johnson are returning All-League selections who will provide valuable leadership for the Jackrabbits, along with fellow captain Braulio Campos. Sophomore Zeth Gonzalez has shown a lot of improvement in goal and fellow 10th graders Mason Peterson and Lincoln King will also be in line for key roles this season.

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There’s a lot to replace at Lakewood, including co-Player of the Year Aidan Wilder, but head coach Matt Hardin is excited about the team he’s got this season and hopes to increase the program’s win total in year two.

“We are going to have to learn the game quickly,” said Hardin. “This means the speed of the game, the intensity of the game, and what that means to play lacrosse at the varsity level across Long Beach. We have lots of new guys who are just getting sticks in their hands, and some solid returners that are stepping up to lead the way for us.”

Senior midfielder Troy Johansson will captain the squad and is a valuable piece for both his talent and his leadership out on the field. Junior attacker Andrew Pacheco was new to lacrosse last season but has put the work in during the offseason to come back as a bigger threat in 2023. Same goes for sophomore Spencer Kutsh, who is a strong athlete in the midfield. Sophomore Caleb Gillett was Wilder’s backup in goal last season, but got some valuable varsity minutes and is ready to take over the starting gig.

Caleb Arnaldo and Ricky Ahumada are both football players who have picked up lacrosse and Lakewood, and junior Nate Danna is an accomplished hockey goalie who will help fortify the Lancers’ defensive unit.

Last year was also the first for Cabrillo lacrosse, and the Jags are looking to be back and even stronger in 2023. Their enrollment numbers may not be as high as other schools in the league, but the program has been successful in recruiting athletes from other teams on campus.

“This year’s Cabrillo squad is full of multi-sport athletes and I am a huge advocate for student-athletes playing more than one sport, because your skills can transition into other sports and you stay in shape for other sports,” said Jags head coach Danny Katene Marindin. “Half of the players on this roster are picking up the stick for the first time and are fast learners of the sport. They also enjoy learning the sport and want to play this sport on to the next level.”

A core of four seniors will lead the way for Cabrillo this season. Michael Antoniano has a dangerous shot in the Cabrillo attack, along with classmate Ricardo Lopez, who made the switch from goalie to attacker for his senior year.

In the midfield and on face-offs, Marco Garcia will translate his football skills onto the lacrosse field. Speedy senior Josue Reyes will wield the long stick for the Jags and captain the defense as a vocal returner on the back line.

Compton is making its debut in lacrosse this season for both boys’ and girls’ programs. They’ll host their games at Roosevelt Middle School while the Compton High campus remains under construction.

It’s a modest return to the Moore League for Downey, a former full-time member of the league. The Vikings have won 24 Moore League titles all-time (mostly in aquatic sports), but haven’t won one since 1971.

The 2023 Moore League season starts on March 7 with Downey visiting Cabrillo and Millikan playing at Lakewood.

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.