The crowd roared with applause as Dana Fujikuni scored the winning goal against her former team, UC Davis in the 48th minute, helping Long Beach State defeat the Aggies 1-0 and advance to the Big West finals for the fourth time in the last five years.
The goal came after a corner kick with an assist from junior midfielder Katie Pingel, who placed the ball perfectly in front of the net in the midst of traffic.
“Every game we come to is a championship game,” Fujikuni said. “Every game we have to get in that mindset and that’s how we come out strong.”
After tying UC Davis (7-7-4) in regular season play last week, it was critical for Long Beach State (11-5-3) to come out with a win.
The offensive attack was led by sophomore forward Kayla Cannon and freshman midfielder Sierra Castles, who each took three shots. The 49ers outshot their opponents once again, completing the game with 13 shots compared to UC Davis’ nine.
Senior goalkeeper Imani McDonald had four saves in the 90 minutes, earning her fifth shutout of the season.
“Coming into this game we absolutely wanted revenge,” McDonald said. “I knew that I owed my team a much better performance. I am happy to come out on top with this one.”
In the last five minutes of the game, tensions grew higher and voices became louder.
“I thought that was one of the best Davis teams I’ve seen,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “We were fortunate to score the goal and settle down after that.”
Long Beach State will take on UCSB 1 p.m. Sunday in the Big West tournament finals at UC Irvine.