Long Beach State Notebook: Kaitlin Fregulia central to women’s soccer success

Long Beach State women’s soccer sophomore Kaitlin Fregulia has been an important part of the 49ers offense on set pieces. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)
Long Beach State women’s soccer sophomore Kaitlin Fregulia has been an important part of the 49ers offense on set pieces. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)
Long Beach State’s Kaitlin Fregulia,2, heads the ball over Penn State’s Marissa Sheva,27, last year at George Allen Field.      
Photo by Stephen Carr, Press-Telegram/SCNG
 Sunday, September ,4, 2016.
Long Beach State’s Kaitlin Fregulia,2, heads the ball over Penn State’s Marissa Sheva,27, last year at George Allen Field. Photo by Stephen Carr, Press-Telegram/SCNG Sunday, September ,4, 2016.

Kaitlin Fregulia is a product of Beach Futbol Club, and now the Long Beach State women’s soccer team is reaping all of the benefits.

The Torrance native won multiple national tournaments in seven years with Beach FC before changing positions and becoming one of the most important players on the 49ers’ roster.

LBSU coach Mauricio Ingrassia started Beach FC in 2008, and Fregulia played for 49ers assistant coach Jeff Joyner at the club level, so it was an easy decision for her to commit to LBSU early.

“Practicing (on campus), I fell in love with the school,” Fregulia said. “It’s felt like home since I was young. Knowing the playing style too, it was obviously a great choice.”

Fregulia was an All-CIF forward at West Torrance High, but played some at outside back for Joyner and Beach FC. Last year, as a true freshman, Ingrassia rolled the dice and tried Fregulia at multiple positions, including center back.

“She had never played center back but she has tremendous potential,” Ingrassia said. “The fact that she’s been an attacking player, she feels the game that way offensively when we have a set piece or need a goal.”

Fregulia, an All-Big West selection as a freshman, and scored game-winning goals against Northwestern (WATCH VIDEO) and San Diego State last month. The sophomore said it’s been a lot of learning on the job at LBSU.

“It was frustrating in the beginning because I didn’t have the confidence,” Fregulia said. “When (Ingrassia) coached me harshly I didn’t always take it the best and I got down on myself, thinking maybe this position isn’t for me. I eventually pushed through it, and it started to feel like I was meant to be in this position. Once I warmed up to it, I gained confidence and it got easier.”

The LBSU defense has also been boosted by Long Beach Poly High alum Sarah Pilster. The freshman also played for Beach FC and has worked her way into the starting lineup with aggressiveness and soccer smarts.

“She is still growing by leaps and bounds every game,” Ingrassia said of Pilster. “Her biggest strength is her intelligence. She picks things up very quickly. It’s been fun to see.”

“It’s been really helpful to have the older girls to teach and encourage me and help me get better,” Pilster said.

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LBSU (3-2-1) plays San Diego on Friday, at 7 p.m. at George Allen Field, for the seventh consecutive season. The 49ers defeated the Toreros in the third round of the NCAA Tournament in 2011, and at George Allen Field in 2012, but haven’t beat them since. San Diego won twice in the last four years, and the other two matches were scoreless draws. San Diego (1-4) is coming off of its first win of the season last weekend. LBSU visits LMU on Sunday.

Men’s water polo

The 49ers (3-1) are playing two games at the University of Redlands on Saturday as part of the Inland Empire Classic. LBSU takes on host Redlands at noon before facing Pomona-Pitzer at 3 p.m. in a rematch of the 2016 season opener that the 49ers won.

Last week at the Triton Invitational, LBSU junior Austin Stewart scored a team-high 12 goals in four games.

Women’s volleyball

LBSU (1-5) visits LMU tonight before playing two matches in two days at San Diego State’s Aztec Challenge.

The 49ers face Pacific at 4 p.m. on Friday and SDSU at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Pacific beat UC Santa Barbara in five sets last weekend. LBSU leads the all-time series with SDSU 32-26. The 49ers were swept by the Aztecs last season but have won eight of the last 11 meetings.

Cross country

Junior Mikayla Florez was named the Big West Conference Cross Country Athlete of the Week on Tuesday.

Florez won the season-opening Pepperdine Invitational last weekend, and is the first LBSU women’s runner to win a meet since Rosa Del Toro claimed the Aztec Invitational title in 2010.

LBSU is at the UC Riverside Invitational on Sept. 16.

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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.