A header tapped in by senior defender Sarah Maher was enough to secure the 49ers a third conference win and put them one point behind UC Irvine in the Big West standings.
Long Beach State (8-4-2, 3-0-1 Big West) defeated UCSB (9-6, 2-2 Big West) 1-0 Sunday in a chippy game in front of a crowd of 1,022.
After the final whistle, Long Beach had 16 shots while UCSB accumulated 10. The 49ers have outshot all of their opponents in conference, but have taken each victory with a margin of one goal.
“I just knew that I had to get something on it,” Maher said. “I tried to flick it and the goalie was out and it went in. I knew I got a good touch on it.”
Tensions rose in the second half as Long Beach continued taking shots and UCSB fired right back. The Gauchos put pressure on the 49ers’ goal box, but senior goalkeeper Imani McDonald was able to defend the net with three saves.
UCSB’s offense was led by junior forward Shaelan Murison, who launched four shots toward the 49ers net.
“Having a super tough pre-season like we do definitely helps us coming into conference when there are hard-fought and heartfelt games,” McDonald said.
Referees gave warnings left and right as players from both sides started shoving, causing others to be pushed or tripped. The absence of calls brought out questions and frustration from the coaching staff of both teams. The Gauchos drew 18 fouls while the 49ers drew 12.
Only two cards were issued in the aftermath of the near bloodbath. The game swung in Long Beach’s favor in the 63rd minute when Maher was able to score a goal in the midst of traffic in the goal box.
“I really felt like we were so competitive tonight,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “It was contagious.”
The 49ers will travel for a 6 p.m. Thursday match against UC Riverside.