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Millikan Soccer

PREVIEW: Millikan Girls’ Soccer

The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2023-24 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.

Millikan girls’ soccer has been the gold standard recently while winning four of the last five Moore League championships.

The Rams were absolutely dominant last season, outscoring their opponents 74-0 in league play, and have an experienced roster that has high expectations yet again.

“You bring up moments to teach with and you highlight the highlights,” Millikan coach Tino Nunez said of using past seasons. “Like us not allowing a league goal, we thought that was impossible and achieved that. Or can we peak at the right time for playoffs like we’ve wanted to? You always push for something else the following year.”

Senior captain Audrey Stewart said that postseason success is a huge goal for her team. The Rams have only been able to reach the second round of the CIF-SS playoffs while winning four league titles.

“I hope this year that can change and go further,” Stewart said. “We’ve been working on our chemistry because of the holes we have to fill.”

Stewart and Nunez agree that this Millikan squad is very hungry.

“It’s a very competitive group that wants to do really well,” Nunez said. “There’s a big senior group with a handful of players who will be asked to lead and make an impact. (Training sessions) have the edge of both leading and holding people accountable, but you understand why. It’s not getting on people, it’s about if we want to get anything out of this season we have to do more.”

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The Rams will once again be versatile and dangerous in attack with Stewart up top. The UC Riverside commit said she worked hard in the offseason getting faster and stronger so she can play multiple forward positions. Nunez will also use her in the No. 10 position to facilitate other forwards Emily Frost, Ariana Rivera, Sophia Ackerman and Alexandra Rios.

“He’s a good leader with a high soccer IQ,” Nunez said of Stewart. “She can help us give different looks in the middle and out wide.”

Stewart credited Nunez for fostering the competitive nature at training.

“I love Tino,” she said. “I think he runs his program really well. He likes to give everyone an opportunity. But when it comes down to it, he’s going to put on who he thinks can win a game. He likes to move the ball and then get going forward, play wide, get crosses in and finish.”

In the midfield, sophomore Bella Nunez will join senior Bela Menes to execute Nunez’ vision of quality soccer. Senior Alissey Fang will also cover a lot of ground at outside back.

La Mirada transfer Savannah Galvan is coming in to solidify the back line and center back, and could also play as a holding midfielder. Junior center back Sophia Nygaard has returned from injury, and Nunez hopes she can build a quick connection with senior returning starter Sydney Fast.

Nunez knows that with the club commitments, the referee dispute and the season being moved earlier, he has to be patient in building momentum with this group. The Rams only have one game against Los Alamitos scheduled before league starts on Dec. 5 against Cabrillo.

“We’re trying to play to the best of our ability while creating success in a small amount of time, and it takes time,” he said. “There’s a learning curve to knowing your style, knowing what you have for your strengths and then knowing what you’re facing.”

Seniors Emily Marino and Samantha Soria will also be in the mix defensively in front of returning goalkeeper Savannah Dorsey. Nunez also wants to give new freshman Samantha Ortiz some time in goal.

As the last few seasons have proven time and again, the league title will be decided by the games between Millikan, Wilson and Long Beach Poly. Those games have been heated contests that have provided some dramatic late moments.

“Those games, we always have to wait until the end of it,” Nunez said. “It’s about dealing with the

emotional part. A lot of the time you feel like you have to get up so much for those games. The game itself, that’s what we should already be up for. Managing those emotions has also been a growth of our program and having players who have been in those moments before and how to approach it. That’s what created some success to win some league titles.”

“There’s definitely a lot of weight behind those games,” said Stewart (pictured). “A lot of those girls, we all know each other, we all play together, so it’s like you’re playing against one of your friends, of course you want to do well and show out. But of course, those games have been known to be a little aggressive. It becomes a little much out there. You match the physicality, but you have to keep your composure.”

Millikan is in CIF-SS Division 1 again this season.

Long Beach High School Girls’ Soccer Preview
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.