By Jarrod Castillo Editor
After a disappointing season, The Beach’s women’s soccer team sorely needed a redemption year to live up to the hype. So far, they’ve done just that, and are currently on a three-game winning streak, winning the last three after losing to UCLA.
However, most of the games took place while the majority of the student body was on summer break. But don’t fret, we’re here to make sure you’re caught up for their next game.
The season unofficially started on Aug. 11 when the team travelled to Irvine to take on the UC Irvine Anteaters for their final preseason game at the Great Park Stadium in Orange County.
Although the team battled hard for most of the game, the Anteaters squeezed out a 1-0 victory, ending the Beach’s preseason on a sour note, thanks to sophomore forward Claire Grouwinkel’s goal.
“I felt we adjusted well after the first half, or the first third,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said on the Long Beach State Soccer Twitter, following the game. “I felt like we were moving, at times, the ball well … it was a good exhibition.”
Following the conclusion of preseason, the Beach went up the 405 Freeway for a matchup against a no. 2-ranked squad in the UCLA Bruins on Aug. 17. This would be a good test to see how well the Beach stacked up against one of the nation’s best.
For the most part, both sides were evenly matched, going blow-for-blow. Then, the Beach’s spirits would be crushed: just two seconds left in the game, senior defender/forward Hailie Mace would score, giving the Bruins the 1-0 win.
“I think this weekend was a microcosm of what college soccer is about,” Ingrassia said concerning the weekend games. “We had the worst of losses on Friday night where we had a very, kind of, fluky ending and it’s probably one of the worst losses that I remember taking as a coach.”
Although the Beach lost, they can take solace in the fact that 2016 Offensive Player of the Year, senior Ashley Gonzales, played in her first regular season game in a year after being gone last year due to injury. Gonzales played a total of 67 minutes as Ingrassia wanted to limit her minutes while she eases back into game shape.
The loss dropped the Beach to 0-1-0.
Following the loss to UCLA, the Beach returned to the friendly confines of George Allen Field to take on Southern Methodist University (SMU) for their first home game of the season on Aug. 19. This would be the first of three games at home for the Beach.
It appeared that the heartbreaking loss two days prior didn’t affect the Beach. In the 56th minute, sophomore forward Nadiyah Siqueiros found the back of the net to give the Beach the 1-0 lead. Although SMU would have a few chances, with a penalty kick in the 76th minute being one of them, they wouldn’t be able to capitalize, ultimately giving them the loss.
“For us to respond and get a shutout win at home in front of our fans, I think, speaks volumes about the character of our players,” Ingrassia said. “Hopefully we can learn from this weekend and understand that no matter how good it is or how bad it is, it’s on to the next.”
The Beach would improve to 1-1-0 on the season.
Winning the first game of the homestand, on Aug. 24 Long Beach State then turned their sights to the visiting Northeastern Huskies, who came into the game at 1-1-0.
Ashley Gonzales corralling the ball against Northeastern University on Aug. 24./Courtesy of LBSU Athletics
It wouldn’t take long for Gonzales to find the back of the net for her first goal of the season as she was able to score off an assist from Fujikuni in the seventh minute.
“It was just an unbelievable feeling,” Gonzales said of her goal, per the Long Beach State Soccer Twitter account. “[I’ve] been wanting to score all season obviously, but I’ve just got to play my game and just let it come to me.”
The score would remain 1-0 for the duration of the half. Into the second half, the Beach would add onto their lead, thanks again to Gonzales crossing the ball into the box and finding junior midfielder/forward Katie Pingel for a strike in the 57th minute to make it 2-0.
Northeastern’s hopes were kept alive as senior defender Eve Goulet was able to head in a goal from a corner kick in the 83rd minute to make it 2-1. However, that would be all that the Huskies could muster as time ran out.
With the win, the Beach stood at 2-1-0.
Hoping to keep the momentum rolling, the Beach took on the San Diego State University Aztecs for their final home game on Aug. 26. Although the game was at a deadlock going into halftime, that would change.
In the 65th minute, senior midfielder Dana Fujikuni found herself in perfect position at the top of the box and fired a shot into the back of the net, giving the Beach a 1-0 lead.
The Aztecs were unable to recover and soon left George Allen Field with the loss, thanks in part to redshirt freshman Ashley Seymour’s terrific goalkeeping, getting a shutout in her first collegiate start.
“I think the defense is starting to gel,” Ingrassia said after the win on the Long Beach State Soccer Twitter account. “The more time they spend together, the better it is for us and they played well.”
“We didn’t have our regular starting goalkeeper today, but Ashley Seymour stepped in and did a great job and it feels good to get a shutout,” Ingrassia concluded.
With the win, the Beach improved to 3-1-0.
With a successful homestand in the books, the Beach (3-1-0) are looking to continue their three-game winning streak on the road this week to take on the Texas A&M Aggies (4-0-0) in Texas on Thu., Aug. 30 at 5 p.m. PST.