San Diego to visit Long Beach State in annual rivalry match
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 00:09
It has been 304 days since the 22nd-ranked Long Beach State women’s soccer team defeated San Diego in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament.
That’s 304 days of reminiscing on the 49er sideline about a rainy, muddy afternoon game that was won in the 56th minute by Ashley Roese’s first career goal.
It’s also 304 days that the Toreros have had images burned in the back of their minds — images of LBSU celebrating on the field.
In less than 48 hours, the women of USD will have an opportunity to replace those images, as the Toreros and 49ers will face off in their annual rivalry game Friday night.
“This game is going to have a lot of fireworks,” LBSU head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “I think both teams are going to be looking for the victory, but we respect each other as programs, and I think it’s going to be a great match for the fans.”
The 49ers and Toreros played twice last year, and The Beach emerged with 1-0 victories both times. Before then, however, USD owned the all-time series with nine wins, no losses and one draw.
The ‘Niners (6-3) will play their first home game in two weeks when they wrap up their nonconference schedule against USD (3-6) on Friday. They have been ranked in the national top 25 since the beginning of the season and are likely one loss away from falling out. After a 3-2 double overtime loss to Texas Tech over the weekend, LBSU is one of two ranked teams with three losses. The other is No. 20 Pepperdine.
The Toreros, on the other hand, haven’t had an easy time regaining the status that led them to the Sweet Sixteen last year. They have had their least amount of victories through nine games since 2005, when they also opened their season at 3-6.
That record may not be reflective of USD’s true ability, however, as five of those six losses were to teams that either ranked or received votes in the latest poll. The Toreros own arguably the most difficult nonconference schedule in the nation, as they have already faced No. 2 Duke, No. 10 Texas A&M, No. 12 North Carolina and No. 18 Pepperdine this year.
“I think for this game, the records and everything that has happened up to now is out the window,” Ingrassia said. “It’s a game in and of itself, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Leading the Torero offense is Long Beach native Emily Dillon, who starred at Wilson High School before playing her first two years of college soccer at West Virginia. The junior has accumulated two goals and three assists since transferring to USD.
Heading the defensive effort for the Toreros is yet another Long Beach Wilson alumna, senior Dani Russell. Russell was an honorable mention on the All-West Coast Conference (WCC) team in 2011 and is helped by senior defender Lexi Doel, who was named WCC Player of the Week near the end of August.
Russell and Doel will have their feet full this weekend, however, as the ‘Niners will bring a potent scoring attack to the field. 2011 All-American forward Nadia Link has four goals and three assists to go along with her team-leading 20 shots on goal, and midfielder Eileen Maes is coming off a weekend in which she scored three goals and earned Big West Offensive Player of the Week honors.
USD is The Beach’s last nonconference opponent of the year. A week after Friday night’s match at George Allen Field, the ‘Niners will open Big West Conference play at UC Riverside.