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No. 24 Long Beach State set for NCAA first round game at No. 7 Pepperdine

The 49ers will take on Pepperdine in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.
(Photo by Steven Georges)

Nov. 9, 2011

No. 24 Long Beach State (15-5-1) at
No. 7 Pepperdine (15-1-4)
Saturday, Nov. 12
Time: 1:30 p.m. (PST)
Location: Rokus Field
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LONG BEACH - The No. 24 Long Beach State women's soccer team makes the short trip to Malibu this weekend when it takes on seventh-ranked Pepperdine in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship. The 49ers and Waves are set to square off on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 1:30 p.m. at Rokus Field.

Long Beach State is making its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championships. The 49ers, who earned their first-ever bid in 2008, have now made the 64-team bracket three times in the last four years. LBSU is still looking for its first victory in the NCAA Tournament, however, as it suffered a pair of 1-0 first-round losses to San Diego in 2008 and 19th-ranked Santa Clara in 2010.

Since Mauricio Ingrassia took over the helm of the 49er women's soccer team in 2004, the program has established itself as one of the dominant forces in the Big West. The 49ers have won either a regular season or tournament championship in five of the last six years. LBSU, which has made an appearance in the conference finals in three of the last four seasons, recently claimed its second consecutive Big West Tournament title, and also won an unprecedented three straight regular season championships from 2006-08.

Nadia Link and Shawna Gordon highlighted the postseason awards for Long Beach State as they were named the Big West Offensive Player and Midfielder of the Year, respectively. The duo, along with Alex Balcer, also earned first-team All-Big West honors. Kaitlyn Gustaves and Jordan Nelson were second-team selections, while Nicole Hubbard garnered honorable mention recognition.

LBSU was ranked 24th in the Soccer America poll and was receiving votes in the NSCAA poll this week. The 49ers have cracked the top 25 four times this season with their highest ranking coming at No. 22 in the NSCAA poll released on Oct. 11.

Eighth-year head coach Mauricio Ingrassia is closing in on the century mark for career wins at Long Beach State. Against UC Davis (Oct. 28), he picked up his 90th victory as he has led the 49ers to a 10-plus win season six times. Ingrassia is 93-53-17 at LBSU.

Pepperdine (15-1-4) tied San Diego at the top of the West Coast Conference standings but won the tiebreaker by virtue of a head-to-head victory to claim the title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. The Waves' only loss of the season came at then No. 10 Santa Clara. Anisa Guajardo has paced the Waves with 22 points (9 goals, 4 assists). Lynn Williams also has six goals and eight assists, while Laura Cole is the team's second-leading scorer with seven goals. Roxanne Barker has started every game between the posts and has registered a 0.53 goals against average, nine shutouts and an .875 save percentage (77 saves).

Long Beach State trails in its all-time series with Pepperdine, 5-1-0. The two teams met every year from 1998-2002 and then didn't face each other again until Sept. 18, 2009, when the 49ers defeated the Waves, 3-1, at George Allen Field. LBSU is 0-3 when playing in Malibu.

Junior Alex Balcer was named the Big West Tournament MVP after anchoring a stingy 49er defense that did not allow a goal in wins over Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine. Balcer also assisted on the game-winning goal in the championship game at UCI. On the season, the LBSU defense has posted a league-best 0.85 goals against average and nine shutouts.

Long Beach State has put together one of the finest seasons in program history. The 49ers have scored a Big West leading and school-record 46 goals, topping the previous best of 44, which was established in 2008. LBSU also set a new record for victories in a season (15) and has registered its sixth 10-win campaign in the last seven years.

Individually, Nadia Link is second in the single-season record books in goals (15) and points (40). She is just one goal and four points shy of tying the record in both categories. In addition, Link (10) and Shawna Gordon (10) each need three more helpers to tie the single-season assist record of 13.

Senior Jazz Strozier netted her fourth goal of the season when the 49ers needed it most. At the 12:40 mark, she scored the game-winner in a 1-0 victory at 16th-ranked UC Irvine to lift LBSU to its second straight Big West Tournament title. Strozier ranks fifth on the team with 10 points.

Junior Nadia Link, who was invited to the U.S. U-23 National Team camp in early October, ranks among the nation's best in points (T15th), goals (T25th) and assists (T28th) per game. Link also leads the Big West in total goals (15), assists (10) and points (40). She is just the third 49er in school history, and the first since the program was reinstated in 1998, to reach double figures in both goals and assists. Link has four multiple-goal games on the year and has registered at least one point in 14 of LBSU's 21 contests. The Rowland Heights native has been named the Big West Offensive Player of the Week twice this season, while also being selected to the and Soccer America Teams of the Week on Sept. 5. She recently made her way back onto the Soccer America Team of the Week on Nov. 2. In the 49er career record books, Link is sixth with 57 points and 23 goals, and is tied for eighth with 11 assists.

Senior Shawna Gordon is known for her finesse as she has a team-high 10 assists, but she is also one of the 49ers' top scoring threats with seven goals. Gordon scored the game-winner on a penalty kick in a 2-1 overtime win at UC Santa Barbara before notching two goals and an assist in a 6-0 triumph over Cal Poly. Earlier this year, the Rancho Cucamonga native also established a school record with four assists in a 6-0 victory against Saint Mary's. Gordon is currently third in LBSU history with 24 career helpers, is fifth with 58 points, and is tied for eighth with 17 career goals.

Senior Nicole Sweetman put together quite a streak late in the season as she found the back of the net in three of the last five games. The Oxnard native ranks fourth on the squad with six goals and 15 points. She had a goal and an assist in the 49ers' 2-0 victory over Cal State Northridge in the Big West semifinals.

Senior Nicole Hubbard registered her first career hat trick in a 6-0 win over Saint Mary's on Sept. 18. The Lakewood native is second on the team with eight goals this season. She is also tied for eighth on the 49ers' all-time top 10 list with 17 career goals.

Senior Kaitlyn Gustaves was tabbed the Big West Women's Soccer Defensive Player of the Week after registering a career-high nine saves in a 2-1 overtime victory against Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 9. On the season, the Long Beach native has compiled 63 saves, nine shutouts and a league-leading 0.85 goals against average. Her GAA and shutout total rank among the top 10 in the 49er single-season record books.

The NCAA second and third rounds are set to take place at campus sites on Nov. 18 and 20.



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