Long Beach Poly turned up the pressure in the second half of Wednesday’s CIF Division 2 second round game at Dos Pueblos, with Celeste Dominquez giving Long Beach Poly what it needed in the 54th minute of a 1-0 victory for the Jackrabbits.
Dominquez redirected a shot from teammate Sam Shier, one of a number of opportunities in the latter 40 minutes of the contest.
“I haven’t scored in a long time and I knew I had to come up big,” Dominquez said.
Long Beach Poly moves into Friday’s quarterfinals.
“We play with so much heart,” Dominquez said. “We practice so hard; the conditioning is so hard during practice but we know in the end we’ll get the result.”
Dos Pueblos lacked a strong possession game and relied on long balls and free kicks to produce its chances.
“We were pretty evenly matched I think. They just finished,” said Chargers captain Jamie Benedetto. “I had two chances that I should have scored but I don’t know. We weren’t prepared.”
Chargers head coach Jose Guerrero took the blame for the preparation.
“We didn’t come to play today and I think it’s my fault. I’ve not prepared well the team this week,” Guerrero said. “It’s really hard. We make a few mistakes, we pay for them.”
The Jackrabbits were at their most vulnerable 10 minutes into the second half when goalkeeper Imani McDonald covered up a threat at the edge of the penalty box but lost control and touched the ball with her hand outside of the penalty area. McDonald was given a yellow card and Long Beach head coach Terri Collins brought in JV goalie Alexis De La Fuente for the direct kick.
“Do I think she did it intentionally, no. I think she’s just playing hard and lost track of where she’s at,” Collins said.
Dos Pueblos’ Maria Solis took the shot and it bounced off the wall and was cleared from danger. A goal there would have given the Chargers the first lead.
“That’s a real scary thing for a keeper to come into,” Collins said.
Instead, Dominquez came through four minutes later. Long Beach held on for over 25 minutes to keep the shutout intact.
“I’m impressed with how hard they went every time,” Collins said about DP. “There was no way that I felt the game was wrapped up any second of the game.”
The Chargers were looking to reach the Division 2 quarterfinals for the first time in program history. Most of the team will return next season with a goal to go farther.
“Next year I think we’re going to unstoppable,” Benedetto said. “We haven’t made second round for like four years so it’s a good accomplishment.”
Long Beach, winners of the Moore League, improve to 14-7-3 while Dos Pueblos finishes 15-4-6.