With a tough pre-season schedule against highly ranked teams, Long Beach State women’s soccer has shown that it is not to be messed with. It enters conference play with a 5-4-1 record, falling just one goal short in three of its four losses. After facing tough teams such as UCLA, Texas, and Auburn, Long Beach is prepared to take on The Big West.
But before the 49ers can make their mark in conference play, they had to finish off Loyola Marymount. The game settled with a score of 2-2 as Long Beach faced LMU at George Allen Field Saturday night. Although the outcome wasn’t in Long Beach’s favor (5-4-1), the team seems confident going into Big West play.
“Even though the ball didn’t go in today, I think we were overwhelmingly the better team for a large period of time,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “The pre-season was a great experience for the players. We’re seasoned and we’ll be ready to play.”
The crowd of 834 was anxious to see what would happen next after a tie at the 90 minute mark. The game went into overtime, where two ten-minute halves were played under sudden death.
With the sudden death ruling, the team that scored first in overtime would immediately win the match. This ultimatum created tension on the floor as both sides fought to secure the winning goal. Aggression was a common theme throughout the second half and overtime, with the game ending with nine fouls from Long Beach and 16 from LMU.
Although the 49ers had 22 shots total, they only found success with two. The goals were scored in the first half of the game, when senior forward Ashley Gonzales placed the ball in the net with an aerial assist from junior defender Chloe Froment, and junior midfielder Katie Pingel knocked in a header off of a long throw-in. The goal was special for Gonzales, as she tied the school record for most career goals after returning to field from an injury last season.
“My team and my coaches motivated me to come back,” Gonzales said. “I couldn’t thank them enough for allowing me to play again and supporting me throughout this whole thing.”
The two-goal lead was not held for very long as LMU retaliated with a single goal in the first half. The goal was scored by senior midfielder Shelby Cormier, who launched it into the top right of the net, far out of Long Beach goalkeeper Imani McDonald’s reach.
With the close score, tension grew even higher in the second half as LMU returned with a burst of energy. LMU responded with a second goal by junior midfielder Melissa Lewis, who forced the ball in with a header off of a corner kick.
The match was fought hard until the last second. A final shot attempt by LMU was deflected by Mcdonald as she dove to the ground and tipped the ball out of play as the clock ran out.
“We have the passion and courage to play the full 90 minutes or 110, whatever it might be,” McDonald said. “This was a battle to the end and I am excited that we had this game going into Thursday.”
Long Beach State will start conference play on the road 7 p.m. Thursday where it will face its rivals, Cal State Fullerton.