IRVINE — Long Beach State women’s soccer allowed two second-half goals in a crushing loss to UC Irvine at Anteater Stadium Sunday, essentially ending the Beach’s hopes of reaching the postseason.
“Our group really fought tonight and unfortunately came up a little bit short,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said.
The Beach (4-11, 2-4 Big West) must win its last two games and get help from other teams in the form of losses to reach the conference tournament.
The match with Irvine (4-11, 3-2-1 Big West) was the Beach’s first road game since a 1-0 loss to UCSB on Oct. 6, and the Beach appeared rattled out of the gates as Irvine played a fast-paced offense early on.
Long Beach created its first quality scoring chance in the 10th minute, when junior forward Nadiyah Siqueiros spun around her defender into the box, driving a high shot which Irvine senior goalkeeper Maddie Newsom rejected with a diving effort.
“It was just a really tough game with not a lot of chances for either side,” Ingrassia said. “They just capitalized on theirs and we didn’t finish the ones we had.”
Long Beach redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Seymour made a splendid save of her own in the 15th minute, diving right to stop a one-timer from near the penalty spot.
A cross from the left got past Seymour in the 17th minute, but junior defender Kaitlin Fregulia prevented a goal, sliding to clear the ball from passing the goal-line. Fregulia denied the Anteaters again in the 30th minute, making a kick-save on the goal-line during a chaotic scrum in front of the Beach net.
“We knew we had to come in with fight tonight,” Fregulia said.
Fregulia halted Irvine’s momentum once again in the 40th minute. Junior defender Kaylee Ramirez sent a free kick into the box where senior midfielder Taylor Bistline jumped, heading the ball to Fregulia left of the six-yard box. Fregulia turned away from the goal, reaching back for the ball, tapping it into the bottom-right corner while falling backward for her first goal of the year and a 1-0 Beach lead.
“I was a little ahead of it, which is why I had to fall back and do a semi-bicycle kick,” Fregulia said.
Fregulia’s goal adds to the emerging depth of the Long Beach offense. Sophomore defender/forward Elysia Laramie scored the first four conference goals for the Beach, but its three goals since have come from three different players.
Irvine finally got on the board in the 63rd minute off of a cross from 35 yards into the top of the box by sophomore defender Piper Wurth. Sophomore defender Kala McDaniel sprinted underneath the cross, flicking a header past Seymour for the equalizer.
The goal brought a fast-paced flow back to the match. The crowd buzzed with rekindled energy as Irvine’s forward’s pressured the Long Beach defense.
Attempting to match the aggressiveness of the Irvine forwards, Fregulia committed a foul above the Long Beach arc. Irvine sophomore midfielder Amber Huff took the free kick, calmly stepping into the ball and releasing a laser into the top right corner for a 2-1 Irvine lead in the 69th minute.
“In the second half when that team gets that first goal, it’s really hard to stay focused,” Fregulia said. “It kind of just happened in the blink of an eye. A stupid foul called on the outside of the box and the next thing you know it’s in the back of the net.”
The two goals were scored just six minutes apart and stunned the Beach, which did not generate a threatening attack for over five minutes after falling behind. The Irvine defense held as the Beach took the disappointing 2-1 loss.
“We’ve done a great job of playing through a lot of adversity and we’ll continue to fight,” Ingrassia said.
The Beach will play a must-win game against CSUN at 7 p.m. at Matador Soccer Field Oct. 31.