Long Beach State Soccer

Long Beach Women’s Soccer Can’t Catch No. 9 Pepperdine

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The result at George Allen Field on Thursday night was all too familiar for Long Beach State women’s soccer, but they’re okay with that.

LBSU (1-4-3) has struggled through one of the most difficult non-conference schedules in the nation but the young squad has looked better every time they’ve faced a ranked opponent.

That was the case again against No. 9 Pepperdine on Thursday when the Waves rolled to a 2-0 win. The Beach was victim of two quality first-half finishes, but battled the visitors to a relatively even second half.

“We belonged on the field, there’s no doubt,” LBSU coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “We’ve been creating chances all year long. We do have a tough schedule but it’s made us stronger. This team has continued to respond, and now we get to conference.”

LBSU starts the Big West Conference schedule on Sunday when UC Riverside comes to George Allen Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

“We’ve learned so many things (during the non-conference schedule),” Sophie Jones said. “Going into conference we’ve gone through pretty much everything you can go through.”

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The Beach had the first quality chance to score in the 12th minute when Maddy Perez sent a failed clearance back into the 18-yard box. Freshman Cherrie Cox met the cross in front of goal but her point-blank shot was saved by Pepperdine goalkeeper Ellie Sommers.

Three minutes later, Pepperdine midfielder Carlee Giammona stole the ball and on the counter attack she played it perfectly to Tori Waldeck for the goal.

LBSU responded well to the opening salvo with pressure on the flanks. Jones broke free for a shot in the 21st minute but her shot across the face of goal sailed just over the crossbar.

“She’s basically started every game for us and tonight was a good performance from her,” Ingrassia said of Jones.

Three minutes later, Tatum Wynalda converted another LBSU turnover into the second and final goal of the game.

“We were a little timid in the first half, not tackling and letting players run through, so we talked about it at halftime and I think we fixed it. I liked the second half. We had two incredible chances to get one back.”

There was a point when LBSU was being outshot 10-4 by Pepperdine, but the Beach built momentum thanks to moving to a 3-4-3 formation to put one-on-one pressure on the Waves. LBSU’s Lena Silano and Alyssa Reyes both had golden opportunities to score in the second half but Sommers made the stops. She finished with those three impressive saves that all came on shots from inside the box.

“We did really well in the second half. We tried to pin them in up top, so that’s why I was playing super wide and pinned up on the outside back. That seemed to open them up. We had a couple quality chances, but they didn’t go in. We just never stopped fighting.”

LBSU ended up being outshot 17-9 in the game, and Beach goalkeeper Morgan Houston-Shepherd finished with two saves. The Waves beat their hosts in possession 55 percent to 45 percent.

“We’re 0-0 and now there’s nothing new,” Ingrassia said of entering Big West play. “Now we just need to get that first (Big West) win and we’re on our way. Like getting that first green light.”

VIDEO: Long Beach State vs. No. 9 Pepperdine, NCAA Soccer
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.