Long Beach State eliminated in first round of NCAA tournament
Published: Saturday, November 10, 2012
Updated: Sunday, November 11, 2012 15:11
The sight of Long Beach State women’s soccer players walking off the field with tears in their eyes has become unusually common this year, but the tears cried following the 49ers’ 2-1 loss to Santa Clara in the first round of the NCAA tournament had entirely different meaning than those from times past.
In previous instances, the ‘Niners found themselves mourning the losses of overtime rivalry games and key Big West Conference matches. This time, their emotions were triggered by the loss of their season and the seven seniors that will never play another game for The Beach.
“It’s a little disheartening, but these are the best years of my life,” senior forward Nadia Link said. “I’m always going to remember this.”
Despite taking the majority of time of possession and playing well up to the level of the seventeenth-ranked Broncos, LBSU (12-8) allowed two goals in the first half and created a hole it couldn’t climb out of.
“For the most part, I thought we played pretty well,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “[The first goal] was in traffic, and [goalkeeper Marrina Meyers] didn’t see it. The second goal was very soft. We fought, but we ran out of time in the second half.”
The 49ers got one back in the 71st minute when senior defender Alex Balcer headed in her third goal of the season off a free kick. They spent the vast majority of the remaining 19 minutes playing offense, but couldn’t seem to break through a stifling Santa Clara back line.
The clock eventually wound down to all zeros, and LBSU was left with not much more than memories and a quiet bus ride home.
“I’m very proud of the team,” Ingrassia said. “They put together a very strong effort through a lot of adversity and got us to the NCAA tournament. We put up a tough fight and we might have been able to get a little more luck and get a better result, but I’m proud of the way that the team has played. It’s been a good year overall.”
In a way, the game was reflective of how the whole year has ended for the 49ers. They put together a strong effort and had their chances, but ultimately fell short.
“It’s hard to take a loss, but I couldn’t be more proud of taking it with these girls,” Link said. “There are no regrets from anyone on this team, and I’m happy to end it this way knowing that everybody on the team gave it their all.”
Santa Clara will play its second-round match at No. 1 Stanford next weekend. LBSU, on the other hand, will begin its offseason routine and simply have to look forward to next year.