The Long Beach State women’s soccer team played to a 1-1 draw against Hawai’i Sunday at George Allen Field, a deceptive final score given the Beach’s spirited offensive effort in its final game of the season.
“I think we played well in the first half,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “Then in the second half, we lost our [positioning] especially in the midfield.”
The Beach (4-12-1, 2-5-1 Big West) earned a point for the draw and finished the season in seventh place in the Big West Conference, missing the conference tournament by eight points. Hawaii (6-7-4, 4-1-3 Big West) finished in third place, making the tournament.
Before the game, Long Beach State recognized departing seniors midfielder Taylor Bistline and forward Katie Pingel along with graduating redshirt-junior midfielder Ayana Robles for their contributions to the Beach.
Despite battling injuries, Pingel tied for the team lead with three assists this season.
“It was an honor to play with this team,” Pingel said. “I’ll always treasure it.”
Bistline has been a constant force for the Beach the past four seasons, appearing in 72 games. Robles has come into her own as a ball-handling midfielder this season.
The Beach dominated possession early Sunday, as Bistline and Robles maintained control in midfield, often with passes to each other.
Pingel threatened to give the Beach the lead in the 20th minute, dribbling around a Hawai’i defender in the right side of the box and leaning into a powerful shot which deflected off the crossbar and over the net.
“The team gave it their all to make sure the seniors went out on top today,” Ingrassia said.
Seven minutes later, Pingel threaded a perfect pass behind the Rainbow Wahine defense to the Beach’s leading scorer, defender/forward Elysia Laramie. Sprinting, Laramie shot left, but Hawai’i redshirt senior goalkeeper Alexis Mata denied her, charging out for the save.
Mata made five saves in the match, three of them on Laramie. Laramie recorded a career-high eight shots.
The Rainbow Wahine committed a handball in the box after a Long Beach corner kick in the 42nd minute. Laramie took the resulting penalty kick, crushing it middle-low for her sixth goal of the year and a 1-0 Beach lead.
“The keeper cheated [to my left] way too early,” Laramie said, “so I was able to just slot it down the middle.”
Playing for a chance to host the conference tournament, Hawai’i increased its offensive urgency in the second half, stringing passes together at a faster pace than earlier in the game.
In the 64th minute, Rainbow Wahine freshman midfielder/forward Izzy Deutsch dribbled down the left side of the box, rolling a clever pass into open space above the penalty circle. Sophomore defender Morgan Meza sprinted into the gap, one-timing Deutsch’s pass into the top-right of the net for the equalizer.
Long Beach responded with its own offensive flurry. The battle between Mata and Laramie continued in the 82nd minute when Mata rejected Laramie diving to her left. The Beach was forced into overtime for the first time since the start of conference play.
“I thought we responded well,” Ingrassia said. “We had some pretty good looks [at the net].”
Laramie ran towards a cross in the 97th minute, but Mata cut down the angle, creating a desperate scramble for the ball. Trailing the play, Pingel poked her foot through the traffic while jumping over a teammate, sending a chip-shot wide of the goal.
Both defenses tightened in the second overtime, as the clock ran out on both teams’ chances for a victory.
“We deserved to win that game,” Pingel said. “Sometimes the best team doesn’t win.”