After defeating the top team in the Big West, Long Beach State has two more games left to bump UC Irvine out of the number one spot.
Thursday’s 4 p.m. road matchup at UC Davis and Sunday’s 2 p.m. home game against Northridge can help Long Beach (9-5-2, 4-1-1 Big West) get the points they need to become conference champions. The 49ers hold second place and trail one point behind UC Irvine.
“I think our team is in a very good spot,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “We are taking one game at a time … they are all championship games.”
The 49ers have shown consistency throughout conference play, outshooting their opponents in passionate attempts to put the ball in the back of the net.
Senior forward Ashley Gonzales leads the team with 5 goals scored, with only one occurring during conference. Although she has only found the net once during Big West play, the goal secured a win the team needed to have a chance to take the first place title.
Another key player in the 49ers conference play is senior defender Sarah Maher, who contributed a goal in the 3-2 win against Hawaii and scored the winning goal in the 1-0 UCSB defeat.
While the attacking end has one-upped each team they have beaten in the Big West, the defensive end continues to hold down the fort. The defense includes junior Chloe Froment, senior Alyssa Alvarez, sophomore Sarah Pilster, and sophomore Kaylee Ramirez, who have stopped multiple breakaways and shot attempts. Senior goalkeeper Imani McDonald has had a successful conference with two shutouts at home against Cal Poly and UCSB.
The 49ers next opponent, UC Davis, (6-7-3, 3-2-1 Big West) currently holds fourth place in the Big West and had a key win against Fullerton, a team that Long Beach tied in double overtime. Northridge is far behind in 8th place, but saw a win against UC Riverside, who is the single team the 49ers fell against.
“UC Riverside was kind of a shot in the foot,” Gonzales said. “But the way we bounce back is amazing and I love my team for that.”
The Big West is full of competitive teams, all of which have the talent to take a win on any given day. The rankings are not set in stone, but the final conference games will determine who has guaranteed a spot in the Big West tournament and NCAA tournament.