Link, Sweetman lift 49ers to 2-0 win over CSUN in Big West semifinals
Nov. 3, 2011
LONG BEACH - The second-seeded Long Beach State women's soccer team took the first step towards repeating as Big West Tournament champions on Thursday afternoon as they topped No. 3 seed Cal State Northridge, 2-0, in semifinal action at George Allen Field.
For the second year in a row, the 49ers will advance to the championship game by way of a win over the Matadors. It will also mark their third appearance in the conference tournament finals in the last four years.
LBSU extended its win streak to four games and moved to 14-5-1 overall, matching the program record for wins in a season. The 49ers also improved to 10-1-0 at George Allen Field, marking the most home victories in school history.
Junior Nadia Link netted the game-winner as she registered her Big West leading 15th goal of the year. Link is just one goal shy of the 27-year old single-season school record, which is held by Annette Fernandez.
Senior Kaitlyn Gustaves manned the net for the entire 90 minutes, notching four saves in her eighth shutout of the year.
The Matadors (7-10-2) took the first two shots of the game, but the 49ers started to gain momentum midway through the first period as they ended up holding a 7-to-4 advantage in attempts. Link, Sweetman and freshman Taylor Nelson all had a shot on goal.
Long Beach State kept pressing in the second half and broke through at the 54:08 mark. Hubbard sent a nice through pass to Sweetman on the left wing and she crossed the ball to the middle of the box where Link drove home the game-winner from about six yards out.
The 49ers continued to dominate possession and eventually tacked on an insurance goal in the 74th minute. After the CSUN defense struggled to clear the ball, Sweetman gained control at the top of the box and drilled a shot to the lower left corner.
"We had a couple first-half chances but we were a little bit tentative," head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. "So, we talked at halftime about a couple things we needed to get done and the team came back with total focus and they worked extremely hard in the second half to contest their possession. I thought the girls did a fantastic job today."
The Long Beach State defense was stellar throughout the game as the 49ers won the battle in shot attempts, 15-to-10. LBSU also held an 8-4 edge in shots on goal. Nelson had a game-high five attempts, while Link finished with four shots, all of which were on frame.
With the final 2-0 score, the 49ers broke the school record for goals in a season with a conference-best 45 tallies. The previous record was 44, which was established in 2008. Link also ranks second in the LBSU single-season record books in goals (15) and points (40).
In a rematch of last year's championship game, Long Beach State will take on top-seeded UC Irvine in the Big West finals at Anteater Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 6, with kick-off set for noon.
In 2010, the 49ers defeated UCI, 1-0, to win their first-ever Big West Tournament and earn their second NCAA bid in three years.