The Long Beach State women’s soccer (10-5-3, 5-1-2) finished the season strong to take the regular season Big West Conference championship, and they were rewarded with all-conference honors today before the tournament semifinal on Thursday against UC Davis. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. at UC Irvine, and the championship is 1 p.m. on Sunday.
LBSU coach Mauricio Ingrassia was named the Big West Coach of the Year for the second time in 15 years, while senior Dana Fujikuni was named Midfielder of the Year and senior Sarah Maher was named Big West Defensive Player of the Year.
“This season has been a really fun journey watching this team bounce back from setbacks,” Ingrassia said.
LBSU is the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament, and is best in the Big West with the No. 43 RPI in the nation. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
“Obviously with the brutal schedule that we have, you have no choice, you just have to get up,” he added. “That’s what life is about, and I think this team embodies what our program has been about, which is just getting through the adversity.”
Fujikuni is a three-time All-Big West selection who started every game this season, and has a team-high 12 points with four goals and four assists. Maher, a Wilson High alum, also started every game on the back line and led the team in minutes played. She scored twice, and is the second consecutive LBSU defender to win the award after Kaitlin Fregulia did last year.
Senior forward Ashley Gonzales was named first-team for the third time after scoring a team-high six goals this season. After bouncing back from a season-ending knee injury, Gonzales is now the career goals leader at LBSU after scoring twice in the last three games. Five different players have combined to score six goals for LBSU in the last two games.
“We just started clicking,” Gonzales said. “Being confident in all of our forwards getting a goal has been awesome and good for everybody.”
LBSU junior Katie Pingel, junior Taylor Bistline and freshman Elysia Laramie were also honored. Pingel made second-team for the second consecutive year, and she was third on the team with 10 points. Bistline was honorable mention after scoring a pair of game-winning goals, and Laramie made the All-Freshman team after tallying two goals and two assists in 18 appearances.
Pingel said she and her teammates are looking forward to getting another crack at UC Davis on Thursday. Last week, LBSU played a 3-3 draw against the Aggies on the road.
“I think it’s exciting because we dominated that game and they just got lucky with three goals,” Pingel said. “We know what they’re about. We’re excited to have a rematch.”
Ingrassia, who led his team to its third 10-win season in the last four years, said this squad has done a good job of just playing in the moment.
“This team is capable,” Ingrassia said. “We have a lot of different ways we can play through our different personal. We can attack and defend in a couple of different shapes. That flexibility helps.”
Come back on Thursday for LIVE score updates.