By Jarrod Castillo, Editor
Long Beach State sophomore forward Mackenzie Magaoay (#28) prepares to shoot the ball over fallen Auburn sophomore forward Jaelyn Gadson (#48). Isabelle Cruz/22 West Magazine
Just days after being roughed up by the Aggies of Texas A&M, 2-1, on Aug. 30, the Beach (3-3-0) found themselves in a similar predicament, this time against the Tigers from Auburn.
Coming into the contest, the Auburn Tigers (6-0-0), ranked no. 23, were on a five-game winning streak, laying waste to their opponents through a tough defense and precise offense. As such, the Tigers outscored their opponents 18-2 before facing Long Beach State.
It wouldn’t take long for that high-powered offense to rev up as Auburn attacked the Beach’s defense, not letting them rest. That attacking style would eventually lead to one of the most incredible goals this season, in the ninth minute.
After the ball was batted around the Long Beach box by players on both sides, senior midfielder Gianna Montini found a sliver of space outside the 18-yard box and rocketed a shot towards the crossbar.
Although the ball was initially high, it took a strange carom off the crossbar and hit senior goalkeeper Imani McDonald in the back. She fell into the goal, giving Auburn the 1-0 lead.
In the first half, it seemed as if Auburn had The Beach’s number on defense, as they had a counter for every Long Beach State attack. Auburn limited them to only one corner kick and racked up six fouls to Long Beach’s two, showing their aggressive style of defense.
On the flip side, it appeared that the Tigers were simply more engaged, as their offense would easily penetrate the Long Beach defense, leading to three shots-on-goal. Although Auburn kept attacking and applying pressure, they would do no further damage as the first half ended 1-0.
While the Beach looked timid and discombobulated in the first half, the second half was a different story. It looked as if Long Beach State found a fountain of self confidence; the team kept attacking the once-formidable Tiger defense, thanks to head coach Mauricio Ingrassia’s pep talk during halftime.
“Just turn it on, basically,” senior forward Ashley Gonzales said of what Ingrassia told the team. “Play our game, nobody can touch us when we play so that’s what we have to do from the start.”
With that in the back of their minds, the Beach became extremely aggressive on both sides of the ball, allowing Auburn only two shots while having nine of their own in the second half alone. How the team responded between halves was something Ingrassia liked seeing.
“I thought the team was excellent,” he said. “I thought we dominated the game completely, we were just unlucky in front of the net.”
“We’ve got to have a little bit more composure and everything we do is just for the ball to go into the net,” he concluded.
Some of that bad luck could be attributed to the Tigers goalkeeper, senior Sarah Le Beau, and the admirable job she did in goal, saving four shots and deflecting many more.
While credit has to be given to the great job done by Le Beau, there were as many as four instances in which a potential penalty or foul was not given to Long Beach State on hard challenges by the Tigers in the box and on rough tackles in the midfield.
This visibly and audibly upset the Beach coaching staff, as well as the 607 spectators in attendance.
“No comment, never,” Ingrassia said with a wry smile when asked about the officiating.
The lack of calls could be attributed to the more physical nature of the game, especially as the Beach realized that a potential loss became more and more of a reality. As a result, both sides notched eight fouls in the second half, with Gonzales being given a yellow card with under two minutes left in the game.
Although Long Beach State fought hard in the second half, it wasn’t meant to be as time ran out, giving them the 1-0 loss. The loss dropped them to 3-3-0 on the season and the third loss in which the ball took a fortuitous bounce for the opposing team.
“It was a tough one for sure, it’s going to be a tough one to swallow,” Gonzales said after the game. “[We] just gotta get back to training, making sure we start off the games ready to play.”
“[We have] some things to work on but I think we played well in the second half,” she concluded.
The Beach look to get back to their winning ways on Fri. Sep., 7 against the St. John Red Storm (3-3-0). Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.