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The562’s coverage of Long Beach State athletics for the 2022-23 season is sponsored by Marilyn Bohl.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach soccer for the 2022-23 season is sponsored by Beach Futbol Club.
It looked like Long Beach State women’s soccer was cruising to a Big West opening victory against visiting UC Riverside on Sunday night at George Allen Field. Striker Lena Silano had scored twice and the Beach was doubling up the Highlanders in shots, but UC Riverside scored twice in the final 20 minutes to steal a point with a 2-2 draw.
“We played a really complete game until the final 20 minutes You have to be able to shut a team out when you’re leading in the 70th minute,” Long Beach State coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “We’re taking small steps forward but we’re also shooting ourselves in the foot… This is a long road and there’s 27 points still up for grabs. We have to turn the page.”
The first UC Riverside goal came via a controversial penalty kick decision that Alexandrea Hargrave converted for her sixth goal of the season.
LBSU responded well and Silano nearly scored her hat trick, but her header went off the post. Minutes later on a counter attack, Sam Ritchie found Leyna Wood for the equalizing goal less than four minutes until the final whistle.
“I want my team to take accountability for what just happened,” LBSU defender Elysia Laramie said. “But also to be really confident in knowing the chances we created. They’re there, and we’ll be able to put these games away in the future.”
The Beach enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in UCR territory, and outshot the visitors 12-8 for the game and 9-5 in the second half, all while forcing Highlanders goalkeeper Cassia Souza to make five saves. LBSU goalie Morgan Houston Shepherd finished with three saves, the first coming early when she came off her line to thwart a counter attack.
“Once you get to conference the energy completely switches,” Laramie added. “Now the results matter. Before it was about getting to know each other and our performance. Now it’s about winning games and we have to win these games to make the tournament. The energy is competitive, it’s like going to war out there.”
LBSU (1-4-4, 0-0-1) struggled through its non-conference schedule but has shown vast improvement over the last month.
“It was definitely different,” LBSU defender Maddy Perez said. “We’ve grown and learned a lot from the hard times during preseason. I know we’re going to learn from this and continue to grow. This is just one game. We have plenty more to go and I’m excited to see what the rest of the season is like.”
However, that fact didn’t lesson the sting of dropping points at home.
“It’s too late for lessons because these are points that are slipping away,” Ingrassia said. “There’s no reason for that. We were closer to our third, fourth and fifth goal than they ever were to getting a PK. We’re getting punished for every little mistake we make, but we make the mistakes. WE have to own up to that. We have to be better.”
Silano gave LBSU its lead just 12 seconds before the halftime whistle. She beat a group of UCR defenders at the top of the 18-yard box and beat the keeper nearside with her right foot.
Two minutes and 18 seconds into he second half, Silano netted her second goal when Summer Laskey fed her the ball at the box and she placed it into the far corner. It is the second brace of the season for the senior and fifth in her career. Silano now has seven goals this season and 18 over her last two seasons moving her into a tie for eighth-most in program history.
“She’s really leading and I just want her to be her,” Ingrassia said. “If it’s her moment to score, take the chance. If it’s her moment to assist, take the chance. And if it’s her moment to just work hard for the team just do that too. Her role is bigger than minutes. She’s doing great.”
LBSU nearly took a 3-0 lead when Laskey hit the cross bar, and Perez had a long go at goal sail just high, but the PK changed momentum.
The Beach even got one last look at a game-winner in the 88th minute but her shot went off the cross bar.
“We’ve definitely struggled closing games out,” Laramie said. “It’s about focusing and concentrating to see these games out.”
LBSU continues conference play next week by hosting CSU Bakersfield on Thursday. Kickoff will be at 6:00 p.m. at George Allen Field.