Soccer, Sports, Women's Sports

Long Beach State looks to regain power in the Big West

A friendly exhibition between the Long Beach State women’s soccer team and UC Irvine Saturday manifested into an emotional battle that set the tone for the upcoming season.

Long Beach came out in its new black and white “grit” uniforms with the new BE/\CH logo plastered on the front. The 49ers couldn’t capitalize on their new found grit however, as the Anteaters took the exhibition 1-0.

“I think we played well, we had few mistakes that we can easily fix,” said senior forward Ashley Gonzales who played her first game returning from last year’s season-ending injury.

Gonzales had a relatively quiet night, failing her only attempt to score a goal however, she was active on both ends of the field.

“I was a little nervous at first, but once the whistle blew I knew it was just game time so it felt good,” Gonzales said.

Just two days before the exhibition, Irvine and Long Beach ranked first and second in the Big West preseason coaches poll, respectively.

“The biggest improvement is that Ashley [Gonzales] is going to start,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “There is a lot of athleticism this year with the addition of many new freshmen.”

After back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, Long Beach anticipated a deep postseason run last season, but the team’s dream was quickly cut short. The 49ers finished the season with a record of 9-6-3, and did not qualify for the Big West tournament.

“We had untimely situations, with Kaitlin [Fregulia] getting a concussion in the second overtime against Irvine and losing Ashley [Gonzales] in the second game in the year,” Ingrassia said. “I didn’t think it would hurt us bad because we had a lot of good players, but it didn’t pan out.”

Junior defenders Chloe Froment and Katie Pingel make their return after having exceptional seasons, and look to take on bigger roles this season. Fregulia, the reigning Big West defensive player of the year, will also look to build on her play from last year.

The 2018-2019 season will begin with a challenge as Long Beach takes on No. 2 UCLA on the road. When asked if the 49ers were ready to take on a top ranked school in the nation,

Gonzales only had one word to say: “Yeah.”

Other notable non-conference matchups include Southern Methodist, Auburn, No. 17 Texas and No. 12 USC.  

Long Beach begins its season 7 p.m. Friday at No. 2UCLA before returning to George Allen Field two days later for its first home game of the year.

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