After having very little playing time in her freshman season and starting only two games as a sophomore, Lena Silano had a breakout 2021 junior year for the Long Beach State women’s soccer team.
Silano’s play this year resulted in her receiving first-team Big West Conference honors followed by a few record-breaking moments.
It was the start of a season that would result in Silano scoring six game-winning goals which is the second all-time in the CSULB record books and three multi-goal games, also second all-time. Silano also had 11 goals which is the fifth all-time and the most goals scored in a season since 2016 with 25 points making her the seventh all-time.
Silano’s father Tim Silano stated that her first two years of collegiate soccer were very tough on her; but her coach, Mauricio Ingrassia, was able to coach her up, which would result in a promising junior year.
While watching his daughter struggle her first two years, her father was frustrated watching the forward from Agoura Hills.
“I wanted to blame everybody but her, but she was the one that said, ‘No Pop, it’s up to me. I gotta prove my game,’ ” said Silano when talking about his daughter’s early struggles.
Silano’s goal coming into the 2021 season was to improve her game to the potential she knew she could play. After just two games early on in the season, she recorded two goals in CSULB’s first game of the year against Cal State Northridge on Aug. 19 then a week later against no. 8 ranked Pepperdine University, Silano scored the first game-winning goal of her career in a 2-1 win on the road.
Rob Miller, Silano’s Westlake Village-based strength and conditioning coach, said The Beach attacker came upon a phase in her career that many other highly-touted athletes reach. Miller said that many talented high school athletes tend to get away with things for a certain amount of time until the competition gets higher.
“The difference between when I first met Lena and now,” Miller said. “She started to get out of her own way and worked on being more coachable. Every young athlete has to work with and trust that coach that can take them to the next level.”
Coach Ingrassia would end up becoming that person who would help Silano step up her game. Ingrassia has coached at CSULB for 18 years now and he is doing for Silano as he did for former CSULB soccer goal-scorers like: Ashley Gonzalez (2014-2018), Nadia Link (2009-2012) and Kim Silos (2005-2008). Silano said that if it wasn’t for Ingrassia’s experience guiding fellow goal-scorers throughout his career, she wouldn’t be the player she is today.
“He was very supportive mentally,” Silano said. “[Ingrassia] told me he figured out how to coach me and it was honest and close conversations. I was honest with him on how I wanted to be impactful and it’s all I ever wanted. This is the first time I’ve experienced a lot of this and this is a lot of firsts for me but this isn’t his first time dealing with it and his experience helped me out a lot.”
Following a summer stint with United Women’s Soccer’s Santa Clarita Blue Heat that resulted in a second division national title, Silano was able to take just one week off before getting back to training to prepare for CSULB’s 2021 preseason, the first since August. 2019 after the cancellation of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 regulations.
For the first time since November. 2019, Silano was back in the CSULB black and gold and, this time, she was scoring a lot of goals for The Beach. One of which would end up as no. 2 on SportsCenters Top 10 plays when her game-winning, clutch-time goal against UC San Diego came with one second left on the clock on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 at George Allen Field.
Silano’s father competed in cross country and track and field for Eastern New Mexico University from 1978 to 1979. He said it was amazing to see his daughter on ESPN that night and said it felt like a dream come true.
“Even my athletic dreams, to see her achieve that height,” Tim said. “To be able to share it with me, with the world, with her family which is Long Beach women’s soccer, and the coaching staff. I think she’s on her way to more and influencing [The Beach] in a healthy way. I see their future’s bright.”