Daily 49er

LBSU ends regular season on top of Big West

The 49ers head into the conference tournament with a three-game winning streak and a share of the regular season championship in hand.

Senior+forward+Vania+Robles+%283%29+dribbles+with+two+UC+Davis+closing+in+on+Thursday%2C+Oct.+29+at+George+Allen+Field.+
Senior forward Vania Robles (3) dribbles with two UC Davis closing in on Thursday, Oct. 29 at George Allen Field.

Senior forward Vania Robles (3) dribbles with two UC Davis closing in on Thursday, Oct. 29 at George Allen Field.

Bobby Yagake | Daily 49er

Bobby Yagake | Daily 49er

Senior forward Vania Robles (3) dribbles with two UC Davis closing in on Thursday, Oct. 29 at George Allen Field.

John Broadway, Staff Writer

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The Long Beach State women’s soccer team ended the regular season on a three-game win streak and claimed a share of the Big West title by shutting out UC Davis 2-0 at George Allen Field on Thursday night.

The 49ers finished at the top of the Big West, tied with Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara, for the first time since 2008. Head coach Mauricio Ingrassia attributed this season’s success to the maturity and talent of his team.

“We’re deeper and more experienced than in previous years, a little bit wiser and a little bit older,” Ingrassia said. “I do feel like we left a couple wins on the table this season, but we’ve definitely grown as a team and I like the direction that our team is headed.”

It was senior night on Thursday for the 49ers, who had five seniors on the team; Val Margerum, Hannah Sanders, Melanie Fox, Marie McKenzie, and Vania Robles. The seniors are content knowing their last home game as a 49er was a well-played one.

“I think today was one of our best games, soccer wise, this season,” senior defender Val Margerum said. “We stayed composed on the ball, fought for each other and played hard. Our defense didn’t give them any easy opportunities and our offense scored when we needed to.”

The 49ers (11-5-2, 6-2-0) had the ball for the majority of the game, beating the Aggies (9-7-2, 2-4-1) in time of possession, shots (9-5) and corner kicks (5-1).  LBSU broke the scoreless tie in the 38th minute after junior midfielder Mimi Rangel found sophomore forward Victoria Bolden who spun away from a defender before sending the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.

Rangel continued to set her teammates up as she’d done all season. In the 61st minute, she found sophomore forward Jessica Vincent streaking down the sideline. Vincent shot the ball into the goal with her first touch, giving the 49ers a 2-0 lead.

The Aggies came right back at the 49ers, nearly scoring a goal on back-to-back header attempts in the 62nd minute, but freshman goalie Imani McDonald deflected both attempts, helping her earn her second shutout and third win after taking over for the injured Ashton McKeown.

McKeown played the last 11 minutes of the game, getting her first playing time since she dislocated her shoulder on Oct. 16 against UC Riverside.

The 49ers are headed to the Big West tournament as the top seed after UCSB dropped a 4-3 thriller to CSUN on Sunday. Although it was a considerable feat, the 49ers are looking for more than just a Big West conference and tournament title.

“Getting into the Big West tournament is an accomplishment, but our primary goal this year has been to make a run in the NCAA tournament,” Rangel said.

The 49ers will have a chance to get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament if they win the Big West tournament.  If the 49ers don’t win the tourney, their record and strength of schedule could still be considered Tournament worthy.

The 2015 Big West Tournament begins on Thursday, Nov. 5, with semifinal match-up between LBSU and UC Riverside at 5 p.m. at Titan Stadium in Fullerton. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.

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