With a pair of players scoring their first goal of the season, the Long Beach State women’s soccer team snapped a three-game losing streak, shutting out the UCR Highlanders 2-0 at George Allen Field Thursday.
“We were relaxed,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “We played the way we were capable of playing.”
By defeating the Highlanders (3-12-1, 1-5 Big West), the Beach (4-10, 2-3 Big West) were able to keep alive their hopes of reaching the postseason. The top four Big West Conference teams make the conference tournament and the Beach currently sits in sixth place after Thursday night’s win.
The Highlanders, who are 0-8 on the road this year, played a rough, physical style of soccer, clearly frustrated with their season-long struggles. The Beach kept their composure despite being on the receiving end of pushes, shoves and aggressive tackles all night.
“We responded with a lot of quality today, especially after some of the rough play,” Ingrassia said.
Long Beach State sophomore defender/forward Elysia Laramie had a chance to put the Beach ahead in the 11th minute, receiving the ball in stride right of the arc. Laramie shot low, but UCR freshman goalkeeper Caela Kaio dove for the save.
Laramie had scored all four of the Beach’s conference goals coming into the game. That changed against the Highlanders.
In the 21st minute, junior defender Kaylee Ramirez fired a hard pass left of the arc towards the right side of the six yard box. Junior forward Nadiyah Siqueiros capitalized, tapping it into the back of the net in perfect sync for her first goal of the year and a 1-0 Beach lead.
“When I scored I yelled, ‘finally!’ because I’ve been wanting that goal,” Siqueiros said.
Two minutes later, the Beach increased the lead to 2-0. Redshirt freshman midfielder Angela Morales slid the ball left from above the arc to sophomore forward Sierra Castles, who launched a perfect 20-yard strike into the top left corner.
“Angie [Morales] and Elysia [Laramie] were telling me to hit one before the game,” Castles said. “Angie found me in open space, so I just hit one.”
Castles’ goal was her first this season and marked the first time the Beach scored two goals in the first half this season.
“I think we’ve been keeping our composure better,” Castles said.
The offensive pressure applied by Long Beach started in the midfield. Jumping passes left and right and frequently winning possession of Riverside’s goal kicks and clearances, it began to wear down the Highlanders.
“I feel like we improved in all the rows [forward, midfield, and defense] tonight.” Ingrassia said.
Riverside’s best chance to get on the board came in the 68th minute when junior forward Alexis Vera sped past Long Beach sophomore midfielder Charlotte Guillory, who was able to recover and steal the ball away in the box.
Long Beach sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Seymour was effective, but not forced to make spectacular denials on the night. She collected four saves en route to her second shutout of her career, also notching her first win this season.
“It’s taken a while to develop our identity, but we’re starting to find it,” Ingrassia said.
Long Beach will play UC Irvine Sunday, Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. at Anteater Stadium.