Nov. 19, 2013
LONG BEACH - The Long Beach State women's soccer team had a new look this year with 15 newcomers on its roster. Eleven of those newcomers saw playing time, and three of them ended up starting every game. Due to their youth and inexperience, the 49ers had a season of ups-and-downs.
The campaign started off a little shaky with losses to Northern Arizona and nationally-ranked Santa Clara, but LBSU quickly regrouped and picked up its first win in dramatic fashion as it came from behind to defeat then No. 23 Texas Tech on the road. With Long Beach State trailing 1-0 after the first half, freshman Mimi Rangel tied it up with her first career goal in the 47th minute. The Red Raiders reclaimed the lead, but senior Eileen Maes scored the equalizer at the 87:17 mark and Rangel notched her second goal of the game with two seconds left to give the visitors a huge 3-2 victory. The defeat ended up being the only one Texas Tech suffered during the regular season.
The 49ers carried the momentum into the following weekend, topping Cincinnati, 4-1, and Loyola Marymount, 1-0. LBSU then traveled down South where it faced SEC members Georgia and Auburn. Long Beach State began the trip with a narrow 1-0 loss to the Bulldogs, but rebounded once again with a 2-1 overtime win against the Tigers. Maes tied it up at 1-1 at the 56:06 mark and freshman Ashley Webb connected for the golden goal in the 92nd minute. Rangel assisted on both scoring plays.
That kicked off another three-game win streak as Long Beach State beat No. 11 BYU and San Francisco by way of identical 1-0 scores. Although the 49ers were able to enjoy their upset victory over the Cougars, they also took a blow, losing their senior leader and one of their biggest offensive threats when Maes went down with what ended up being a season-ending leg injury. Rangel scored the game-winner against BYU on a direct free kick from the top of the box at the 13:24 mark.
In LBSU's next game, freshman Celeste Dominguez stepped up in Maes' absence, connecting for the only goal of the night in the 86th minute to give the home team a 1-0 triumph over San Francisco. In its final non-conference game, Long Beach State saw its win streak snapped with a tough 1-0 loss at San Diego.
The 49ers proceeded to open Big West action on the road, earning a split at Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara. They dropped a 2-0 decision to the eventual Big West regular season champion Mustangs, before topping the Gauchos, 2-1.
LBSU then returned home where it tied UC Davis, before heading out to UC Irvine for a Black & Blue Rivalry game. Rangel once again had a big performance for the 49ers, scoring twice to lift the visitors to a key 2-1 conference win.
That result, coupled with a tie against Hawai'i, put the 49ers in a good position in the Big West standings heading into the final stretch of the season. LBSU was in fifth place, but was just one point behind UCI, UCSB and UC Riverside, who were all tied for second.
Long Beach State was unable to move up in the standings, however, as it ended up going 0-1-2 over its final three games to finish outside of the top four.
The inconsistencies this year were not uncommon for such a young team. Despite not making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years, the 49ers have a very bright future ahead. They will return 10 starters, including their top-two scorers in Mimi Rangel (5 goals, 4 assists) and Elizabeth Lyons (2 goals, 7 assists). LBSU will also return goalkeeper Kaci McCain, who in her first year as a starter, compiled an 8-5-3 record, four shutouts, 57 saves and a 0.90 goals against average.
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