Nov. 21, 2012
LONG BEACH - It may have taken a different route in 2012, but Long Beach State once again put together a double-figure win season and earned a berth into the NCAA Tournament. It was the 49ers' third-straight NCAA postseason appearance, and fourth overall since their first-ever bid in 2008.
After claiming its second consecutive Big West Tournament title and advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2011, LBSU started the 2012 campaign right where it left off as it defeated Arizona, 2-1, in its season opener under the new lights at George Allen Field. Ashley Roese delivered the game-winning goal three minutes into overtime.
The 49ers continued to gain momentum the following weekend with a 2-0 triumph over Saint Francis, followed by a 2-1 overtime victory against No. 24 Baylor. LBSU and Baylor were knotted in a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation, but Eileen Maes headed in the deciding goal in the 91st minute. The win put Long Beach State at 3-0, the program's best start since 2006 and moved it up to a No. 11 national ranking, the highest ever in school history.
Four days later, the 49ers took to the road, traveling to Provo, Utah, to face a tough BYU team, where they suffered their first defeat by a 1-0 margin. The Cougars continued to move up the rankings throughout the year, finishing the regular season at No. 2 in the NSCAA/Continental Tire national top-25 poll.
The loss didn't deter the team, which returned home to face Michigan in a pivotal match-up on Sept. 2. The Wolverines held a 1-0 lead for most of the game until Nadia Link evened the score in the 87th minute on a penalty kick. Just under two minutes later, Kelsey Wilson took a free kick from 30 yards out that sailed over the Michigan defense and into the back of the net, giving the 49ers the 2-1 win and head coach Maurico Ingrassia his 100th career victory.
With another huge home win under its belt, Long Beach State headed to College Station, Texas, to take on No. 14 Texas A&M in a nationally televised game. LBSU fell 3-0 to the Aggies before rebounding with a 3-2 double-overtime victory over North Texas.
Back in California, the 49ers made the short trek to Fullerton to play Texas Tech and Army in the Under Armour Invitational. In a heartbreaking 3-2 double-overtime loss to the Red Raiders, Maes shined, scoring a pair of second-half goals to even the playing field at the end of regulation. Two days later, Jessika Oseguera and Maes each found the back of the net to lift Long Beach State to a 2-0 win over Army. Maes' three goals for the weekend earned her Big West Offensive Player of the Week honors. Maes, Marrina Meyers, and Jordan Nelson were also named to the all-tournament team.
LBSU then returned to George Allen Field where it defeated San Diego, 1-0, in its final non-conference game.
The 49ers made a statement in their Big West opener at UC Riverside, routing the Highlanders, 5-1. Long Beach State tied the school's single-game assist record with six, while their five second-half goals were a program best. Link led the charge with one goal and a career-high three assists. Kassidy Hause, Kristyn Benavidez, and Renee Mendiola all connected for their first career goals, while Shannon Bullock also found the back of the net.
After that, the 49ers caught some tough breaks, falling at Cal State Fullerton, 2-1, in the final three minutes. They bounced back to top UC Santa Barbara, 2-1, before suffering a 4-3 double-overtime defeat to Cal Poly. The Mustangs erased a 2-0 deficit with three goals in a 12-plus minute span before Maes tied it at 3-3 at the 88:25 mark. Cal Poly eventually netted the game-winner with 4:37 left in the second extra period.
Once again, Long Beach State showed its resiliency, responding with a pair of road wins over UC Davis (1-0) and Pacific (2-0). Goalkeeper Marrina Meyers played two of her best games of the season, recording a pair of shutouts to earn Big West Defensive Player of the Week honors.
LBSU then returned home to entertain Big West rival UC Irvine on Saturday, Oct. 20. In front of a record crowd of 1,304, the game appeared to be headed to a scoreless draw when the 49ers were called for a handball inside the box with 55 seconds left in the second overtime. UCI converted the penalty kick for the 1-0 victory. The following weekend, Long Beach State routed Hawaii, 5-0, before dropping another heartbreaking 1-0 double-overtime decision to Cal State Northridge.
The 49ers, who finished fifth in the Big West, missed out on the conference tournament for just the second time in the last eight years, but thanks to a tough schedule and some key preseason wins, LBSU secured an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, where it fell to No. 17 Santa Clara, 2-1, in the first round.
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