With an opportunity to tie it up late, the first game for the Long Beach State (0-1) women’s soccer team didn’t go quite as planned in front of a record-setting 2,303 fans, losing the game 1-0 to No. 4 ranked UCLA (2-0).
Much of the first period was dominated by the Bruin’s aggressive defense, creating a wall against the Beach who were held to a lowly five shots, while firing away for themselves 14 times.
In the 12th minute, UCLA freshman midfielder/forward Mia Fishel corralled a deflection and was able to squeeze it into the goal, leading to the Beach playing from behind for the rest of the game.
Despite the early goal, Long Beach never changed their focus.
“You saw a team that had three games under their belt, and we were really slow in the first 30 [minutes], kind of just figuring it out,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “But then after about the 30th minute, I thought we grew with the game.”
With the Beach in need of an equalizer, Ingrassia went to his bench for some energy, inserting freshman midfielder Aleea Caceres, senior midfielder Ayana Robles and junior forward Mackenzie Magaoay, who immediately changed the flow of the game.
“We changed shapes about 15-20 minutes in, so that helped, but also I think [with] the mentality. It’s all in the mind,” Ingrassia said. “We had a couple fresh bodies in there, got through a couple of pivotal moments that can change the game … it allowed us to kind of flow with the ball, take care of the ball better.”
With Caceres, Robles and Magaoay starting in the second half, momentum began to shift in the Beach’s favor.
“Now we got the cobwebs off and out of the way and now we’re ready to go, so they felt really good about it and they came out and showed it,” Ingrassia said.
The Beach came out firing, pushing the ball well, leading to a controversial no-goal call in the 65th minute.
With the ball an inch away from crossing the goal line, the Bruin defenders were able to clear the ball, leading to the Beach once again yearning for an opportunity to tie the game.
“We went out there with a better mentality and much more energetic, and that’s why we [did better], but unfortunately we couldn’t make that goal,” said junior goalkeeper Marta Alemany Sanchez.
After the demoralizing blow, the Beach were unable to get another shot on goal, once again ending the half with only five shots.
“We test our team early and it’s all about learning to respond to situations,” Ingrassia said. “They were chasing and that’s a team that doesn’t normally do that. So for us to do that here, I think it’s a positive and something we can look at and build from.”
The Beach will face off against Penn State Friday at George Allen Field at 7 p.m.