Soccer, Sports, Women's Sports

LBSU narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Big West Conference Tournament

A turbulent season ultimately ended in disappointment for the Long Beach State women’s soccer team, which failed to qualify for the Big West Conference Tournament for the first time since 2013.

LBSU — the reigning Big West Conference champions — bested UC Davis 2-0 in the final match of the season, but ended up two points short of a tournament spot to defend its title.

The 49ers (9-6-3, 3-3-2 Big West) were the overwhelming favorites to win the conference at the start of preseason according to a conference coaches’ poll, but injuries and inconsistency on the road ultimately led to their downfall.

Head coach Mauricio Ingrassia is devastated his team fell short of its season objective, but praised the team’s never-say-die attitude despite playing for very little in the end.

“I am so proud of this group,” Ingrassia said. “They fought and they never gave up and they sent off their seniors on a good note. They almost went 3-0 there at the end.”

Sunday’s victory was the fitting sendoff for the team’s seniors who were honored before the start of the match for their time at Long Beach.

Forwards Tori Bolden and Paige Conway, defenders Allie Emmons and Kayla Lombardo, as well as midfielder Jessica Vincent were all handed a bouquet of flowers by Ingrassia and joined by their family and friends for a passage of honor by fellow teammates.

“It was so fun, but it was bittersweet,” Bolden said about the pregame ceremonies. “Now it’s like, ‘you’re finally done, it’s over,’ but I wished we could’ve done more [this season].”

Vincent was more focused on the positive time she had at Long Beach as a whole rather than this season’s shortcomings.

“My time at the Beach was amazing,” Vincent said. “This team is so deep and so talented that they’re going to win it all next year.”

A vital part of next year’s team will be the return of senior forward Ashley Gonzales, who is returning as a senior after missing most of this season with a torn ACL.

Gonzales is already focused and eager to return to the pitch next season.

“Next year I’m just going to come back and put my whole heart in it for my last season,” Gonzales said. “I can’t wait.”

Despite missing the tournament, there are positives for Ingrassia’s side, as this marks the eighth-straight season the 49ers have finished the season with a winning record.

As far as the Big West Conference goes, UC Irvine leaped Cal State Northridge to take sole position of first place in the conference. UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton finished in third and fourth place, respectively.

The Big West Conference Tournament is set to kick off this week, with times and dates to be announced.

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