Breaking past the Anteater’s defense and enduring a one-on-one battle against Irvine goalkeeper Maddie Newsom, Ashley Gonzales maneuvered around her, leaving the net wide open. She stumbled her way into scoring position and quickly tapped the ball into the net, setting the record for Long Beach State’s career goals.
Gonzales scored the 34th goal of her collegiate career in a battle against the top team in the Big West. The senior forward achieved a milestone while insuring the team’s biggest win of the season.
“Playing good for my team and scoring today were two of my goals and I accomplished both of them,” Gonzales said. “I am really happy to get this win for my team.”
Long Beach found itself in the lead earlier than they usually do with a goal by freshman forward Sierra Castles, who capitalized on a defensive slip-up and earned the first goal of her collegiate career in the 35th minute. The two goals helped Long Beach State (9-5-2, 4-1-1 Big West) defeat first place UC Irvine (8-6-3, 4-1-2 Big West) 2-1 Sunday night in front of a rowdy crowd of 1002.
“After the last game coming down 1-0 this is really good for us,” Castles said.
Stakes were high for both teams at George Allen Field, but the cheers from Long Beach State fans greatly overpowered those rooting for UC Irvine.
The 49ers out-shot their opponents once again, as they fought to be the first team in the Big West to defeat UC Irvine. Freshman forward Elysia Laramie led the offensive attack for the 49ers with five shot attempts, and senior midfielder Lili Andino led UC Irvine with two.
The Anteaters retaliated in the last 15 seconds when junior goalkeeper Maddie Newsom came out of the box to score on a free kick, but the goal was incomparable to the one by Gonzales that broke the record.
The win put the 49ers just one point behind UC Irvine, who still holds the first place title on the Big West leaderboard. Long Beach has two games left to secure the first place spot and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
“Irvine is a great squad and I think our team understood that tonight,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “They put forth the right type of performance for this time of year.”
Long Beach will travel up north for a 4 p.m. Thursday match against UC Davis.
This story was updated with the correct score of the game Oct. 22, 1:28 p.m.
Watch our video coverage here:
VIDEO | Zaina Cummins and Sierra Martinez