Long Beach Poly Millikan Soccer

Girls’ Soccer: Millikan Scores Big Win Over Long Beach Poly

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

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly is sponsored by Bryson Financial

Millikan has won four of the last five Moore League girls’ soccer championships by controlling games with superior shape, organization and killer instincts.

The song remained the same on Thursday night when the Rams beat visiting Long Beach Poly 2-0 to take over first place in the league standings after two weeks of play.

“It’s credit to the collective,” Millikan coach Tino Nunez said. “We know (Poly) is going to get moments to create something. But can we be locked in? Can we have numbers around the ball? Once you buy into that defensively, it’s hard to break down. Credit to the girls, they work their butts off.”

Nunez specifically mentioned a play that defender Sydney Fast made in the 53rd minute when she cut across the penalty area for a last-second block of a would-be goal off the right foot of Poly’s Lelia Holland. Plays like that are why the Rams haven’t given up a league goal since January 27, 2022. 

After a relatively even opening 10 minutes, Millikan moved senior forward Audrey Stewart from the left wing to the right wing. The Rams proceeded to earn four shots in the following eight minutes.

Millikan took its lead in the 30th minute when Chloe Crecelius hit a long cross into the heart of the Poly 18-yard box where Bella Nunez sent home the header.

“We all worked together in the final third to switch the field to the outside (right of the goal) and Chloe crossed it,” Nunez said. “I’m shocked, being the short one. I guess I just wait for it to come. I think I just get lucky.”

Coach Nunez said this isn’t the first header goal that she’s scored despite being one of the shortest players on the field.

“She’s active and always on the move,” coach Nunez said. “She’s always looking for that next play. In the box she’s one of the smallest players, but she’s always looking for the ball and has scored a few headers already. There’s no stopping her. She’s 100 miles per hour. I love her energy.”

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Poly played strong defense for most of the first half and that included some hard tackles that caused injury timeouts.

“We were dropping too many numbers behind the ball and too deep, allowing them to have too much possession,” Poly coach AJ Perez said. “Just like for us in the Wilson game, possession led to the goal. That was a beautiful cross for that goal. That was money.”

The Jackrabbits were only guilty of nine fouls, but were also given a yellow card in the first half and a straight red card just after the hour mark.

“It’s all part of the game,” said B. Nunez about the fouls, including one that took her out of the game for a few minutes. “We had to keep fighting to get the win. We knew they would come out strong so we came out stronger.”

“We did a good job holding them back, but that also didn’t allow us to get going,” Perez added. “Talk to any boxer, you can’t just block punches, you have to throw punches. I don’t think we were throwing punches. We were blocking and then all of a sudden we got hit.”

Perez pushed more numbers forward in the second half, and a quick counter attack in the 47th minute almost led to an equalizer. Malayah Nuestro wrapped her foot around the ball to play a nifty back pass to Aaya McLyn, but her shot was stopped by Millikan goalkeeper Samantha Ortiz. It was Poly’s first shot on goal.

Four minutes after Sydney Fast made her key play on the back line, Stewart played a perfect through ball for Emily Frost to get in behind the Poly back line. Frost controlled it with a touch in the middle of the box and opened her hips to score into the near side netting.

“She’s got the pace, and if she can compose herself once she’s broken though then she’s going to get more chances like that,” coach Nunez said of Frost.

“This game requires a little bit extra, it’s an emotional roller coaster,” he added. “This is a mature group that is very competitive and is holding each other accountable to accomplish goals. It’s a good start.”

“This is just going to give us more fire and confidence but we know we have way more battles ahead of us so we have to be prepared,” B. Nunez said.

Millikan (7-0-1, 4-0-0) has the semifinal of the Best In The West tournament on Saturday when they take on Oaks Christian at Bolsa Grande High School.

VIDEO: Millikan vs. Long Beach Poly, Girls’ Soccer
PHOTOS: Millikan vs. Long Beach Poly, Girls’ Soccer
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.