The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2023-24 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.
There is no doubt the 2023-24 Millikan girls’ soccer season was impressively historic, but it ended unceremoniously on Saturday with another loss to Mira Costa in the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs.
The newly formatted Open Division featured the top eight teams in the CIF Southern Section, and all four first-round matchups featured a home game for both sides. The Rams (18-4-1) lost the first leg 2-1 at Mira Costa on Thursday, and then dropped a 1-0 decision at home on Saturday 1-0.
“It’s sad it went this way because this group is special and they did a lot of special things,” said Millikan coach Tino Nunez. “It’s about what this group has meant to the program and what they’ve been able to accomplish. They’re great girls, on and off the field, and it was a privilege to coach them.”
Millikan outscored their opponents 98-13 this season while dominantly winning a second consecutive Moore League title and fifth in the last six years. The Rams also won the elite Best In The West tournament in December.
“I’m so proud to say that I was a part of this team this year, this was an amazing team,” said Millikan senior captain Audrey Stewart, who scored the only Rams postseason goal. “All of us were playing for something bigger. If you looked at the stands tonight, we’ve created an amazing community. We got almost as many fans out here as football gets.”
The crowd was the biggest Long Beach girls’ soccer has seen in many years, but they didn’t have much to cheer for in the first half as both teams defended well. The first shot didn’t come until the 20th minute, and then Mira Costa scored with the first shot on goal of the game in the 30th minute.
Millikan was the better side in the second half while searching for the goals needed to force overtime, and outshot the visitors 10-6 in the game, but only one of those attempts were on goal.
“It’s a really tough loss, and it’s the worst part of the year, but I’m really proud that we fought all the way though and really gave everything until the very last second,” said Millikan sophomore Bella Nunez. “All of the girls that come and play for this program, there’s a lot of us who have a really great passion for the sport and they really care and want to win. We’re all very disciplined.”
Bella Nunez and Bela Menes are two key midfielders who will be back for Millikan next year as the Rams try to keep climbing up the ranks in CIF Southern Section.
“They’ve changed the (CIF-SS playoff) format the last two years, last year we got into that (top division) and this group got into (the top division) so we’ve just been more elite while making those jumps,” said coach Nunez. “This group was consistent throughout the year and showed the maturity of just wanting more.”
Mira Costa will face Santa Margarita in the Open Division quarterfinals on Wednesday.