By: Matthew Gomez and Kristina Agresta
Whether driving or flying down from Santa Cruz, one way or another, freshman defender Julia Moore’s father will find a way to attend his daughter’s soccer matches.
The women’s soccer team has played just under half their fixtures for the 2022 campaign. Moore’s father has attended all seven home games, continuing to make the long commute to watch his daughter play.
The commitment should come as no surprise, it was her father who first introduced Moore to soccer when she was around two or three. He had played soccer for fun, but the pair began to bond over the sport by attending San Jose Earthquake games.
As season ticket holders, there was plenty of opportunity to watch the Earthquakes play and solidify their connection to the sport they both loved.
“It was a cool way to bond with him,” Moore said. “Since then he’s been like my leader pushing me with soccer.”
That push has worked.
Moore capped off a brilliant senior season at Santa Cruz High School last year where she scored 26 goals, collected 17 assists, won a league title, and was named the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League’s Player of the Year. Moore also won the 2021 Elite Clubs National League Championship alongside her club.
All the honors would culminate in her commitment to play soccer at Long Beach State.
“When I came, it was like I knew it’d be a perfect fit,” Moore said. “The style of play and the culture is just like how I’ve grown up.”
Off of the pitch, Moore earned a National Merit Letter of Accommodation and owned a 4.6 weighted GPA in high school. She’s a biology major and would like to set herself up for medical school at the end of her four years at The Beach, focusing primarily on pediatrics.
“I really enjoy learning, so I can see myself continuing education,” Moore said.
Moore has been on campus much longer than the beginning of the semester, she moved into her dorm on Aug. 1 and her first game was played on Aug. 10. It was an experience she had to acclimate to, with herself being the only person on the third floor of her building when she first moved in.
“The first couple of weeks were pretty hard,” Moore said. “But it was nice having soccer every day, like double days to distract me.”
With the semester now in full force, the dorms have filled with new faces for Moore to introduce herself to, and has begun to adjust to her new day-to-day life.
“Connecting with all my teammates has been super fun, obviously it’s harder coming in at the beginning,” Moore said. “But once they get to know you and you get to know them you start bonding.”
Moore is one of seven freshmen on the team. They all live in the same dorm building and bond over family meals in the dining halls.
Adjusting to living on your own isn’t the only significant challenge for freshmen athletes, as they must learn to balance their academics on top of an already congested schedule.
For Moore, this comes down to using any gap in her schedule possible, including working from the locker room.
When the team traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts to face Harvard midweek, Moore was assisted by her professors who have been more than accommodating sending lectures from previous semesters and giving the freshman time to make up her studies.
On the pitch, Moore has also had to adjust following a senior season where she mostly played attacking mid, now playing in a more defensive position.
“I’ve always enjoyed being creative and having the ball at my feet,” Moore said. “When you’re further back you can still do that but it’s a little more risky.”
At the Division 1 level, this adjustment period has to be quick, or you can find your role reduced.
But Moore has become no stranger to finding time on the pitch, playing 625 minutes out of a possible 720 through the first eight games of The Beach’s season. It’s the fifth most of any player on the roster and more than any of her freshman counterparts.
“I think the minutes have been super helpful,” Moore said. “Just building my confidence and making mistakes in the preseason, so that now for conference, I know what to expect.”
While her sight is on being named the Freshman of the Year, she and the team have one target; To win the Big West, and make a run in the NCAA tournament.
Head coach Mauricio Ingrassia has the same mindset, preparing his team with a difficult pre-conference schedule that included three ranked opponents that bested The Beach by a combined scoreline of 0-5.
“I think it’s obviously difficult losing, but everyone is on the same page, we all want it,” Moore said.