Davis, Calif. - Long Beach State was back in the pool on Sunday afternoon to take on the top-seeded Anteaters in the finals of the Big West Tournament. The two teams traded leads throughout the first four periods as the game eventually went to overtime and then sudden victory. With only three seconds remaining in the first sudden death period, Kelsey Thornton of UCI lobbed a perimeter shot that found the back of the cage to win by a score of 8-7 and claim the Big West Conference trophy.
It was a low-scoring opening period. Annabel Harman got LBSU on the board at the 5:20 mark to give the Beach a 1-0 lead. But UC Irvine would respond with a power play goal about two minutes later to knot the game up at 1-1 heading into the second period.
The Anteaters owned the second period as they held Long Beach State scoreless and added two goals to take a 3-1 advantage into the break.
LBSU came out strong in the second half as Annabel Harman scored about two minutes into the third period. Virginia Smith followed with two scores of her own to give the Beach a 4-3 lead. UCI’s top scorer Mary Brooks would score late in the period to even the game up at 4-4 heading into the fourth. UC Irvine struck first in the fourth period to take a 5-4 lead. Long Beach State would counter with two goals to take the lead back at 6-5. The Anteaters provided an answer with only 1:16 left in regulation to send the game into overtime tied at 6-6.
UCI scored the first goal in overtime to take a 7-6 lead with 2:01 on the clock. But Tori Morrissey responded with a perimeter goal to tie it up at 7-7 going into the second overtime period.
Both defenses were stellar in the second OT as the game went to sudden victory tied at 7-7.
Neither team could get any offense going in the first sudden death period until late as Kelsey Thornton of UC Irvine lobbed a high shot at the cage with just three seconds left. The ball barely made it over the outstretched arms of the LBSU keeper Eirini Patras and found the back of the cage at the buzzer to give the Anteaters an 8-7 victory and the Big West Tournament trophy.
Eirini Patras finished with 15 saves and led the tournament with 39 total saves in three games played.
Long Beach State finished the year with an 18-12 overall record and advanced to its second Big West Championship game in program history, its last being in 2011 against UC Irvine.
No. 3 Long Beach State -- 1, 0, 3, 2, 1, 0, 0 | 7
No. 1 UC Irvine -- 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 0, 1 | 8
Long Beach State: Smith 3, Harman 2, Mimidi, Morrissey
UC Irvine: Brooks 4, Thornton 2, Mitchell, Shockley
Long Beach State: Patras 15
UC Irvine: Nelson 15
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