Nov. 6, 2011
IRVINE, Calif. - Behind a phenomenal defensive performance and a goal from senior Jazz Strozier, the Long Beach State women's soccer team claimed its second consecutive Big West Tournament title with a 1-0 victory over top-seeded and 16th-ranked UC Irvine Sunday afternoon at Anteater Stadium.
With the win, the 49ers have earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, marking their third appearance in the last four years.
LBSU also extended its win streak to five games, improving to 15-5-1 overall and establishing a new school record for victories in a season.
"I thought it was a great day for Long Beach State," head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. "We came in with a game plan, we executed and scored a very nice set piece goal. Hats off to Jeff Joyner, my assistant coach, he works on all of our sets and that was drawn up to perfection."
Strozier scored the game-winner in the 13th minute, while senior Shawna Gordon and junior Alex Balcer each had an assist. Senior Kaitlyn Gustaves anchored the Long Beach State defense that held UCI scoreless for just the second time this year. Gustaves had four saves while picking up her ninth shutout.
Long Beach State took a 1-0 lead at the 12:40 mark when Strozier found the back of the net. The play started with sophomore Kelsey Wilson serving a free kick to the far post from the right sideline. Balcer then headed it back across the box to Gordon, who also got a head on it before Strozier punched it to the lower left corner. It was Strozier's fourth goal of the season.
The 49ers nearly struck again in the 34th minute as Hubbard's header off a Nicole Sweetman corner kick went just wide.
UC Irvine (14-4-2) threatened in the final 30 seconds when it sent a cross to the middle of the box, but Wilson was able to shield Jenna Pellegrino from the ball while Gustaves picked it up before any damage could be done.
Both teams finished the first half with two shots, while LBSU owned a 2-0 edge in corner kicks.
Long Beach State had the first attempt in the second period at the 51:28 mark, and it was just inches from going in, as Link's shot from the top of the box went off the crossbar after it was tipped by a leaping Jennifer Randazzo.
In the 61st minute, Gustaves answered with a dazzling save to keep the 49ers up, 1-0. On a free kick from about 25 yards out, CoCo Goodson sent a bullet through the defense, but Gustaves made a diving stop to her right.
It was a physical match in which 22 total fouls were called and three yellow cards were issued.
UC Irvine, which had its seven-game winning streak snapped, finished with 12 shots and was paced by Natalia Ledezma, who had five attempts, including one on target.
The NCAA Division I Women's Soccer selection show will air live on NCAA.com at 1:30 p.m. (PST) on Monday, Nov. 7. The tournament is set to begin on Friday, Nov. 11.
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