Leading up to the game, head coach Mauricio Ingrassia noted the positive progression his team has shown throughout the season.
“Our team is feeling good,” Ingrassia said. “They’ve learned a lot of lessons throughout the preseason, and now they’re putting them to use on the field.”
The 49ers (7-3-1) and the Anteaters (7-3-3) met twice last season, resulting in a 0-0 double-overtime draw at George Allen Field. In the second meeting, LBSU won in a commanding 3-0 victory in the Big West Conference title game.
This time around, both teams are bringing a three-game winning streak to Thursday night’s match, and positive starts in their respective Big West Conference campaigns.
The 49ers won the aforementioned Big West Conference home opener against Hawai’i, 3-0, while the Anteaters have won two conference matches in a row — a 2-1 double overtime victory against Cal Poly and a 4-1 win against UC Santa Barbara.
In 10 appearances this season, Palacios has notched five goals and three assists for the Anteaters, while Baham has four goals with five assists in 13 games.
Even with all the offensive fire power UCI boasts, Ingrassia is confident his defense unit will make a stand in the back, and remain as solid as it has all season.
“Our defensive identity has allowed our team to grow,” Ingrassia said, “When we had to figure out how to do things without [senior forward] Ashley Gonzales, our defensive identity came first.”
In turn, the 49ers will look to senior forward Tori Bolden, who netted 2 goals in the win against Hawai’i, for offensive capabilities.
She has registered three goals and three assists in 11 appearances this season.
“I try to keep performing as best to my abilities to help the team,” Bolden said. “We go into every game with the same mentality of trying to get the ‘W.’”
After Thursday night’s match against the Anteaters, the 49ers will have a quick-turnaround game, where they’ll face rival Cal State Fullerton at 6 p.m. on Sunday at George Allen Field.
Even with both upcoming games being just a couple of days apart from one another, Ingrassia knows he has the personnel on the team to tolerate such a schedule.
“We’re a deep team, and so we usually play a good number of players, so we feel good about being able to have rested bodies for Sunday as well,” Ingrassia said.