Daily 49er

LBSU soccer to make comeback in 2016

The 49er season is over, but signs point to a quick resurgence next year.

Sophomore+striker+Ashley+Gonzales+%2814%29%2C+who+led+the+49ers+with+eight+goals+this+season%2C+takes+on+junior+Tatum+Lockett+%2817%29+in+LBSU%E2%80%99s+1-0+win+over+UC+Riverside+on+Nov.+5+at+Titan+Stadium+in+Fullerton.+
Sophomore striker Ashley Gonzales (14), who led the 49ers with eight goals this season, takes on junior Tatum Lockett (17) in LBSU’s 1-0 win over UC Riverside on Nov. 5 at Titan Stadium in Fullerton.

Sophomore striker Ashley Gonzales (14), who led the 49ers with eight goals this season, takes on junior Tatum Lockett (17) in LBSU’s 1-0 win over UC Riverside on Nov. 5 at Titan Stadium in Fullerton.

Michael Ares | Daily 49er

Michael Ares | Daily 49er

Sophomore striker Ashley Gonzales (14), who led the 49ers with eight goals this season, takes on junior Tatum Lockett (17) in LBSU’s 1-0 win over UC Riverside on Nov. 5 at Titan Stadium in Fullerton.

Josh Barajas, Sports Editor

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The Long Beach State women’s soccer team’s season came to a close with a 1-0 loss to Santa Clara in round one of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, but the 49ers have plenty to get excited about for next season.

Head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said before the season that he had his sights set on something more than a simple tournament appearance. After he led the 49ers to the Elite Eight in 2011, anything less than a Final Four spot this year could’ve meant failure.

However, Ingrassia also said after his team’s loss to Fullerton in the Big West Tournament final that the conference plays out in cycles. The conference could be stepping into the era of the 49ers, beginning next season.

Here’s some information to keep in mind while looking ahead at 2016.

Big results

LBSU had a few big wins and showings against some of the top teams in the nation this season.

The 49ers set the tone from the very start by picking up a huge upset win over then No. 4 UCLA on Aug. 21 in front of a record-breaking crowd of 2,232 in the first game of the season.

LBSU followed the win over the Bruins up by shutting USC out, in Los Angeles, in a 0-0 draw on Sept. 13. Four days later the 49ers picked up a 2-2 draw away at Cincinnati, then three days after that LBSU brought back a 1-0 win over then No. 21 DePaul from Chicago.

In the first game of league play, LBSU outplayed Fullerton in every way in a 1-0 overtime win on Oct. 4. Then, with the Big West regular season championship on the line, the 49ers got a clutch 1-0 win away at CSUN on Oct. 22.

Sticking around

The players that will be returning for the 2016 season must have Ingrassia rubbing his hands together like a mad scientist.

This season’s All-Big West First-Team selections Mimi Rangel, Ashley Gonzales, Second-Team selection Ashton McKeown and All-Freshman Team selection Rocio Rodriguez are all returning.

Junior midfielder Celeste Dominguez and junior fullback Mimi Akaogi quietly played 1,925 and 1,613 minutes, respectively. Ingrassia rarely pulled them from the field because they were some of the most consistent and reliable players on the team this entire season.

The 49ers also have breakout players in waiting in sophomore midfielder Jessica Vincent, freshman striker Fatmata Kamara and freshman goalie Imani McDonald to look forward to. Vincent led the team with six assists, Kamara contributed with three goals and McDonald made 27 saves and piled up three shutouts in five starts.

Biggest question

The only hole the 49ers need to worry about this offseason is in the backline. With the departure of senior defenders Melanie Fox and Val Margerum, whoever steps in will have some big cleats to fill.

Fox and Margerum ranked first and second on the team with 2,046 and 1,966 total minutes played this season. Both players not only played nearly every minute, they were also key components in one of the best defenses in the nation.

LBSU boasted a 27th ranked goals-against average in the country at .652 after allowing just 15 goals in 22 games; also the best percentage in the Big West. The 49ers also produced a 21st ranked shutout percentage of .545 with 12 shutouts, most in the Big West, on the season.

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