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No. 21 Long Beach State set for NCAA second round showdown against Miami

The 49ers are set to face Miami in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Friday at 5 p.m.

Nov. 15, 2011

NCAA Tournament - Second Round
Long Beach State (16-5-1) vs.
Miami (10-7-1)
Friday, Nov. 18
Time: 5 p.m. (PST)
Location: UCLA - Drake Stadium
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LONG BEACH - The 21st-ranked Long Beach State women's soccer team, which has won its last six games, is looking to continue its run through the postseason as the 49ers are set to take on Miami (Fla.) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at 5 p.m. (PST) on Friday, Nov. 18, at UCLA's Drake Stadium.

Long Beach State is making its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship. LBSU, which earned its first-ever bid in 2008, has now made the 64-team bracket three times in the last four years. The 49ers recently earned the program's first NCAA Tournament victory with a 1-0 overtime win at No. 7 Pepperdine in the first round.

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 No. 21 in the most recent poll released on Nov. 14. The 49ers also finished the regular season ranked 24th in the Soccer America poll and was receiving votes in the NSCAA poll (Nov. 8). The 49ers have cracked the top 25 five times this season with their previous high 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 94-53-17 at LBSU.

Miami (10-7-1) also won its first-ever NCAA Tournament game as it defeated Alabama, 3-2, in double overtime last Saturday in Coral Gables, Fla. The Hurricanes earned an at-large bid after finishing ninth in a tough Atlantic Coast Conference that had nine teams make it to the tournament, including top seeds Duke and Wake Forest, and perennial national powerhouse North Carolina. Kate Howarth has paced Miami with 10 goals and six assists, while Tara Schwitter is the team's second-leading scorer with five goals. Vikki Alonzo has anchored the defense with 82 saves and a 1.78 goals against average.

This will be the first meeting between Long Beach State and Miami.

Long Beach State has enjoyed an historic season in 2011. In addition to winning their second consecutive Big West Tournament title and first-ever NCAA Tournament game, the 49ers have established single-season records in goals (47), assists (51) and points (145). LBSU has also set a new record for victories in a season with 16, and has registered its sixth 10-win campaign in the last seven years.

Individually, Nadia Link is tied at the top of the single-season record books with 16 goals and sits at No. 2 with 42 points. In addition, Link and Shawna Gordon are tied for third with 10 assists as they trail only Janet Fettig (13) and Annette Fernandez (12), who both posted their top numbers in 1984.

Senior Kaitlyn Gustaves was named the Primetime Player of the Week for her stellar outing in the 49ers' 1-0 overtime win at No. 7 Pepperdine. Gustaves had a career-high 12 saves and posted her third consecutive shutout, extending her streak to 297 scoreless minutes. Her previous best in saves was nine in a 2-1 overtime victory against Cal State Fullerton. That showing earned her Big West Defensive Player of the Week honors on Oct. 10. On the season, the Long Beach native has compiled 75 saves, 10 shutouts and a 0.80 goals against average.

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 (10th), goals (T12th) and assists (T23rd). Link netted the game-winner in the 99th minute of a 1-0 overtime win at No. 7 Pepperdine to give Long Beach State its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. On the year, Link has posted a Big West leading 16 goals, 10 assists and 42 points. 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. She has also tied the single-season school record for goals, ranks second in points and is tied for third in assists. Link has registered at least one point in 15 of LBSU's 22 contests. The Rowland Heights native received Big West Offensive Player of the Week honors and was named to the Soccer America Team of the Week twice this season, while also being selected to the Team of the Week. In the 49er career record books, Link is fifth in points (59), sixth in goals (24) and is tied for eighth with 11 assists.

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-winner in the championship game at UCI. On the season, the LBSU defense has posted a league-best 0.80 goals against average and 10 shutouts.

Senior Jazz Strozier scored her fourth goal of the season when the 49ers needed it most. At the 12:40 mark, she delivered the game-winner at then No. 16 UC Irvine to lift LBSU to a 1-0 victory and its second straight Big West Tournament title. Strozier ranks fifth on the team with 10 points.

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. The Rancho Cucamonga native established a school record with four assists in a 6-0 victory against Saint Mary's on Sept. 18. Gordon is currently third in LBSU history with 24 career helpers, is sixth with 58 points, and is tied for eighth with 17 career goals.

If the 49ers win on Friday, they will square off against the victor of the UCLA-San Diego match in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, Nov. 20, at Drake Stadium.



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