LBSU to play nationally televised game at Texas A&M
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 23:09
After a rollercoaster weekend, No. 16 Long Beach State will travel to Texas, where it will face No. 14 Texas A&M in a nationally-televised matchup Friday night.
The 49ers (4-1) dropped five spots in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NCSAA) Poll after a road loss to Brigham Young, but escaped further damage by coming back to defeat Michigan at home. They must now endure their longest road stretch of the season: a four-game affair that starts with a pair of games in College Station, Texas.
First up is Texas A&M, a side that will likely be the Beach’s toughest regular-season opponent of the year. Texas A&M (4-1) is a soccer powerhouse that has advanced to the NCAA tournament each of the last 17 years. In those 17 years, the Aggies have gone on to the second round 15 times, advanced to the Sweet 16 ten times and made the Elite Eight four times.
“All of our opponents are tough, but [Texas A&M] presents a different challenge,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “We want to test our team early in tough road environments and get good exposure.”
Leading the Aggies are forwards Kelley Monogue and Annie Kunz. To this point, they have combined for five goals and a third of the team’s shots on goal. Monogue was named to the preseason Hermann Trophy watch list, the same honor LBSU forward Nadia Link earned.
Behind the two star forwards is a deep roster highlighted by defender Meghan Streight, who won numerous awards as a freshman in 2011 and was named to the Southeastern Conference Preseason Watch List this year.
Capping off the ‘Niners weekend will be a Sunday morning match with North Texas. The Mean Green are still undefeated this year and are coming off a 6-0 dismantling of Texas Southern. Their 5-0 record is largely a product of a weak schedule, however, and they have yet to receive votes in the NCSAA poll as a result.
For the 49ers, this weekend represents a chance to build up confidence on the road and improve their national ranking. The ‘Niners are still undefeated at home, but experienced a tough loss on the road last Thursday at BYU. After going 80 minutes without scoring or allowing a goal, they gave up a penalty kick and the game’s only points within ten minutes of the end of regulation.
“The BYU week was a short week,” Ingrassia said. “Between the Baylor win and the BYU game, we only had one practice session. Hopefully this time we’ll be more prepared with three sessions.”
After the loss, the 49ers returned home and played an emotional game against Michigan in which they scored two goals in the final four minutes to earn Ingrassia his 100th career win.
“Carrying this win and our energy over to that — I think we had so much more energy tonight than we did at BYU,” midfielder Kelsey Wilson said after the game. “That loss kind of put us in check and really showed us that we need to step up. I think this is a really great way to go to Texas A&M.”
To win in Texas, LBSU will need more contributions from Link, who scored her first goal of the season on a penalty kick against Michigan.
“She’s had plenty of opportunities to have four or five goals by now, but this is soccer, and sometimes, that happens — you get streaky,” Ingrassia said. “It’s a streaky thing for a forward. Sometimes you’re on the right side of the streak, and sometimes you’re not.”
Link’s breakthrough score may open the floodgates for the senior forward, who was among the nation’s leaders in goals last year.