Long Beach State women’s soccer shares points with CSUN in season opener

LBSU’s Dana Fujikuni falls on CSUN’s Jennifer Anderson after a collision in Long Beach on Friday, August 18, 2017. Long Beach State women’s soccer season opener vs CSU Northridge. (Photo by Scott Varley, Press-Telegram/SCNG)
LBSU’s Dana Fujikuni falls on CSUN’s Jennifer Anderson after a collision in Long Beach on Friday, August 18, 2017. Long Beach State women’s soccer season opener vs CSU Northridge. (Photo by Scott Varley, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

LONG BEACH >> A 73rd-minute penalty kick and a shot cleared off of the line in the last seconds of overtime helped the Long Beach State women’s soccer team avoid a season-opening upset to Cal State Northridge on Friday night at George Allen Field. LBSU dominated possession and outshot the visiting Matadors, but the Big West Conference foes finished tied 1-1 in the nonconference match.

The game will not count toward the conference standings, but will help both teams’ RPI in the long run. The 49ers (0-0-1) will visit CSUN (0-0-1) on Oct. 26 for the conference regular-season finale. LBSU beat CSUN at George Allen Field in the Big West Tournament semifinals last season, and has beaten the Matadors four consecutive times in the last two years.

“It’s always emotional when you play Big West teams, no matter who it is or when you’re playing,” LBSU coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “You could tell it was the first game for both teams. There wasn’t much rhythm or soccer plays.”

Ashley Gonzales had six of LBSU’s 13 shots, including the equalizing goal that was earned on a set piece. Sophomore center back Kaitlin Fregulia was taken down in the 18-yard box on a free kick and the PK was immediately given. Gonzales converted into the bottom left corner.

“Our bench really played well in the second half and that helped us keep our composure,” Gonzales said.

CSUN was whistled for 17 fouls and given six yellow cards. Four of them came after the equalizer.

“We didn’t react (to the fouls) and we always talk about just taking what they give you,” Ingrassia said. “One of those fouls helped get is the PK.”

The teams played a relatively uneventful first overtime period before corner kicks put pressure on both sides. With less than 15 second to play, a CSUN corner kick was headed on goal by Payton Jo Armijo. LBSU sophomore transfer Ayana Robles chested it down and cleared it off of the line before it won the game for CSUN.

LBSU dominated possession in the first half but only had two long shots on goal. The best chance to score came in the 12th minute when Katie Pingle’s through ball to Gonzales was cleared by CSUN goalkeeper Jovani McCaskill after she came charging off of her line. CSUN forward Cynthia Sanchez nearly put the visitors ahead in the 33rd minute. The senior dribbled past LBSU defenders across the top of the 18-yard box and her shot was deflected off of the cross bar by LBSU goalkeeper Imani McDonald. Both goalkeepers finished with five saves.

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CSUN took the lead in the 52nd minute on a counter attack started by Avery Dewitt. Payton provided the assist and Kristen Von Meter scored the goal past a diving McDonald.

Gonzales has 29 career goals at LBSU, tying her for fourth all-time. She is five away from the all-time lead.

LBSU is ranked No. 24 in the national preseason poll from TopDrawerSoccer, and is the favorite to win the Big West for the second consecutive year. The 49ers continue their season opening homestand at 7 p.m. on Sunday against No. 6 UCLA.

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About the Author

JJ Fiddler

JJ Fiddler is a sportswriter and videographer who has been covering the Long Beach-area sports world for multiple newspapers since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he adopted Long Beach as his home town and is a member of the Long Beach Century Club, where he is a two-time winner of the Keith Cordes Award for best promotion of the city through sports. Reach the author at jfiddler@scng.com or follow JJ on Twitter: @PTGazetteSports.