Soccer, Sports, Women's Sports

Women’s soccer center back continues to set example for team amid pandemic

Upon coming to Long Beach State in 2018, women’s soccer center back Elysia Laramie knew forcing her way into an experienced and mature squad would be rough. 

After contributing 894 minutes her rookie season, followed by a dominating sophomore year, Laramie no longer struggles for playing time. 

A portrait of Elysia Laramie
Center back Elysia Laramie has been a dominant force on the women’s soccer team and despite set backs caused by the coronavirus pandemic, continues to be a leader for her team. Credit: Long Beach State Athletics

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, circumstances are different this time around.

“Last week we were told we weren’t going to have a season,” said Laramie. “But for us, that doesn’t mean anything. We still have to focus and get better every day whether the season starts tomorrow, two months from now or next year.”

A force in head coach Mauricio Ingrassia’s program, third-year Laramie has her eyes set on the same thing she did when she first stepped foot at the Beach during her recruitment visit. Preparing to win games. 

Her work ethic was something coach Ingrassia first noticed in 2018. Laramie proved to be one of the fittest players on the field in her first few practices and went on to make 27 appearances in her first year.

“She was playing behind very talented players but contributing every single game,” Ingrassia said. “The program has been built to a point where it’s nationally recognized and Elysia is next of all the players before that have had this opportunity.”

In the summer of 2019, Ingrassia and his team travelled to France for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The team also featured in friendly matches against an unfamiliar opponent, the Argentina Women’s National team.

Days later, her and her teammates, including roommate and Beach winger Lena Silano, were in the stands at the Parc des Prince in Paris watching the South American’s play 90 minutes of scoreless play against Japan.

“It’s amazing,” Silano said about being there in person, “I played against [Argentina]. It definitely motivates all of us, we can be here.”

It’s the way Laramie enters the field, according to Silano, with confidence and lack of nerves that inspires the rest of her teammates. 

Another shot at a Big West Conference title for the duo looms on whether the state of California and participating universities are able to agree that things are safe enough to begin play.

The task to piece together a plan for Laramie and the rest of Beach’s student-athletes is something Long Beach State Athletics Director Andy Fee isn’t taking lightly.

The man responsible with the project of safely clearing 19 different sports teams says his first assignment is finding affordable rapid testing. 

“Without rapid testing, I’m not sure we can safely compete because we do not have the ability to ‘bubble’,” Fee said.

Coach Ingrassia has been planning a bubble-type method with his staff to submit for approval with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

For now though, the planning and approval of on-campus training is not something on Laramie’s mind. Continuing to improve for her team by using the extra time to train, she says, is her only option right now.

“I’m just focusing on the things I can control,” Laramie said. “Everything else is out of my mind.”

Following a frustrating 2019 season, the center back’s focus is now centered on building from the squad’s success in spring play. During the training sessions last April, Ingrassia and his staff realized how much more effective Laramie can be for the team in the back line.

She was used as a forward her freshman season and a swap to center back last season was hampered by an “anemic attack” up front, according to Ingrassia, following key injuries to the team.

“The Women’s National Team wanted to look at her in the front cause she’s a physical specimen,” Ingrassia said. “But she’s a natural defender so she’ll go there for the last two years.”

When pandemic allows, Laramie’s new role in her natural position is going to let her and the team take the game to its opponents tactically. Silano mentioned that with Laramie in the back, things will be interesting because she isn’t afraid to venture forward into attack.

In the meantime, Laramie continues to stay mentally and physically ready. To take her mind off things, Laramie has been enjoying time with her niece who, at just one- years-old, also has a knack for soccer.

“The first time she kicked the ball back to me,” Laramie said about the most memorable moment with her niece. “The greatest moment in my life. Put this on record, she’s going to be a Long Beach State women’s soccer player in 18 years!”

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