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Looking Back at the 2017 Long Beach State Women’s Soccer Season

Dec. 16, 2017

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LONG BEACH – Long Beach State’s quest for a third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance was cut short in 2017. The Long Beach State women’s soccer team concluded the season with a 9-6-3 overall record and a 3-3-2 league mark, narrowly missing the Big West Conference Tournament. Despite not making the tournament for the first time since 2013, there were still a number of positives in an injury-plagued season for LBSU.

After a season in which the Beach boasted the highest RPI (73) in the Big West, edging out eventual Big West regular season champion UC Irvine, Long Beach State saw sophomore defender Kaitlin Fregulia named Big West Defender of the Year and to the United Soccer Coaches All-West Region Second Team. Although Fregulia’s season was cut short due to injury, she proved herself on the pitch during her 14 games of action to earn such honors.

The program also continues to shatter attendance records; for the first time in LBSU women’s soccer history, the team averaged over 1,000 fans for all home conference matches (1,008) and 992 fans overall. This marks the fifth time in six seasons that the attendance mark has been surpassed.

Fregulia was also named to the Big West Conference All-First Team, while fellow Beach student-athlete sophomore Katie Pingel earned Second Team honors. Meanwhile, senior Tori Bolden and junior Dana Fujikuni were honorable mention selections, and Rola Badawiya and Sarah Pilster were named to the All-Freshman Team.

The honors came on the heels of a season in which Long Beach State played a very competitive schedule taking on 2016 National Champion USC and then-No. 6 UCLA which went on to make an appearance in the 2017 National Championship game.

During the game against UCLA, reigning Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Year and Hermann Trophy candidate Ashley Gonzales, suffered a season-ending injury kicking off several injuries for the Beach throughout the next few weeks.

Despite losing Gonzales, the Beach went on to earn a 2-0 shutout victory over then-No. 22 Northwestern marking the ninth-straight year that Long Beach State has defeated or tied a nationally ranked team. With Gonzales on the sidelines, the Beach needed someone else to step up in the team captain’s absence and what they got were Fregulia and Pingel who each tallied a goal in the game, while Pingel led the team with four shots.

The victory over eventual NCAA second round participant Northwestern sparked a run in which Long Beach State won seven of nine matches highlighted by head coach Mauricio Ingrassia’s 150 career-victory – a 3-0 win over San Diego. Against San Diego, Ayana Robles netted the eventual game-winner in the first five minutes of action, while Rocio Rodriguez and Badawiya added a goal each in the second half to lead the Beach to a 3-0 victory to secure Ingrassia’s 150th career win.

During that stretch of victories, the Beach also notched a pair of road wins over perennial powerhouse UConn as well as St. John’s. At UConn, Long Beach State battled the Huskies to a 2-2 tie in regulation forcing overtime. In the 107 th minute of action, Fregulia came through with her second goal of the year to lift the Beach over UConn in double overtime.

Three days later, LBSU held off St. John’s with a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Rodriguez in the 33rd minute of play. With a 1-0 lead, the Long Beach State defense kept the Red Storm scoreless as the Beach improved to 6-3-1 on the year.

The Beach opened conference action with a 2-0 win over Hawaii and played UC Irvine to a 0-0 draw, before dropping three straight matches. Against Hawaii, LBSU was led by Bolden who recorded both goals – on in each half – to help Long Beach State record its sixth shutout on the season.

Long Beach State closed out the year on a three-match unbeaten streak with a pair of shutout victories over UC Riverside and UC Davis as well as a 2-2 tie at CSUN. Against UCR, the Beach dominated offensively with goals from Sarah Maher, Badawiya and Bolden, meanwhile goalkeeper Imani McDonald recorded four saves to keep the Highlanders off the board.

Finally, in their last game of the year, the Beach received a goal from Pingel and Rodriguez to end the season with another shutout win. Long Beach State concluded the year with a total of nine shutouts, while McDonald finished the season with 35 saves.

The Long Beach State women’s soccer program has been one of the top teams in the Big West Conference over the last 10 years and looks to continue on that path. In the past decade, the Beach have made six NCAA Tournament appearances marking more than any other team in the conference. Additionally, LBSU has won three conference tournaments and has recorded seven 10-plus win season in the last 10 years. Looking ahead, the Beach will return 25 letterwinners, including nine starters for the 2018 season.



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