Oct. 21, 2011
LONG BEACH - Senior Nicole Sweetman scored the game-winning goal in the 75th minute of a 1-0 victory over UC Riverside Friday afternoon at George Allen Field to keep the Long Beach State women's soccer team in the hunt for the Big West regular season title.
With the win, the 49ers snapped a two-game losing streak and moved into third place in the conference standings with 12 points as they are right on the heels of UC Irvine (13 points) and Cal State Northridge (13 points).
LBSU improved to 11-5-1 overall and 4-2-0 in Big West action, while UCR dropped to 7-8-1, 2-3-0 BWC.
Sweetman registered her fourth goal of the season and first since the beginning of the month when she found the back of the net at Cal Poly on Oct. 2. Freshman Taylor Nelson was also credited with her fourth assist, while finishing with two shots.
The 49ers out shot the Highlanders, 15-6, and held the advantage in shots on goal (5-to-0) and corner kicks (7-to-2). Junior Nadia Link led the way with six attempts, including three on frame.
The first half was evenly played with Long Beach State owning a 5-to-1 edge in shot attempts. LBSU's best opportunity to get on the board came at the 30:20 mark when senior Shawna Gordon blasted a shot from the top of the box, but the ball hit the crossbar and UCR was able to clear it out. Both teams stayed strong on defense for the remainder of the first period as they went into intermission locked in a scoreless tie.
After the break, it was LBSU that came out on a mission as they started to really dominate possession. Just three minutes into the half, Link had the ball in the box with the goalkeeper out of position and she sent a shot on the ground toward the middle of the goal, but a Highlander defender was there to knock it away before it crossed the line. Fifteen seconds later, Link had another good look but UCR goalie Sara Slaughter was there for the save.
The 49ers continued to put the pressure on and in the 75th minute they finally broke through. It all started with Nelson driving down the middle of the field and into the box. She then fired off a shot that was knocked away by a diving Slaughter, but Sweetman was right there to pick up the rebound and put the ball to the back of an open net.
Senior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Gustaves made several nice plays to earn her sixth shutout of the season. Gustaves is now tied for fourth in shutouts and ranks fifth in goals against average (0.93) in the 49er single-season record books.
Long Beach State returns to action next weekend as it closes out the regular season by entertaining UC Davis (Oct. 28) and Pacific (Oct. 30).
The 49ers will honor their seven seniors prior to the start of their final regular-season home game on Sunday, Oct. 30.
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