Head coach David Cameron joked that if the turnout of the third annual Sellout Game and Senior Night event for his Millennium High School girls’ soccer team didn’t attract a record-sized crowd of 3,000 people, he’d cry.
Though the Tigers played in front of an audience of 2,305 – a tick higher than last year’s record size of an estimated 2,220 – Cameron certainly didn’t weep at the resulting 3-2 victory over rival Verrado on January 24, courtesy of a go-ahead goal in the 74th minute by Anacel Valenzuela-Acosta.
“It’s amazing,” Cameron said of the opportunity to send out his seven seniors in grand fashion. “The way we did it, too, to give the seniors an opportunity to play at the beginning and the end and win it at the end.”
Cameron introduced the event two seasons ago, eyeing to spark competition between other schools and soccer programs to see who can reel in the most support.
In the inaugural game two seasons ago, Millennium played in front of 1,359 on a soggy, rainy night. There wasn’t a previously held record for crowd size, but Cameron pushed for 3,000.
“This was a lot better (than the previous two years) because of the weather. It was hot earlier, which was different, but we kind of lucked out.”
The Tigers faced a 1-0 deficit for nearly 40 minutes to start the night, thanks to a cross from Verrado sophomore Angelica Figueroa that was redirected by junior Yesenia Lawson into the net in just the 6th minute of the game.
In her last regular season home game at Millennium, senior captain Kiana Miyazato scored in the 37th minute of the game to knot the score at one apiece.
The goal, Miyazato’s 15th on the year, jolted some much-needed life into a Millennium crowd that was waiting to erupt.
“I can’t explain how special that felt,” Miyazato said. “When I saw it go in the back of the net, everyone was just yelling. You could feel the energy from both teams. It was just incredible.”
The Tigers pounced on the Vipers early in the second half, with sophomore Anne Marie Murphy knocking in her second goal of the season for a 2-1 advantage.
Verrado had an answer to Millennium’s high-pressured offense and amped up crowd 6 minutes later, when sophomore Tatum DeSanti lofted the equalizer from just outside of the box to even the game up at two apiece.
The Tigers delivered the knockout blow in the waning moments of the night via Valenzuela-Acosta’s game-winner, much to the admiration of the home faithful.
Paired with the Senior Night festivities, Millennium had a skydiver deliver the game ball before kickoff. They also hosted a three-on-three Verrado versus Millennium alumni game at halftime.
The Tigers improved to 15-1-1, while the Vipers whiffed on a chance to steal one on the road, falling to 9-8 on the season.