Sports

Previewing the UCLA Regional

Now that the women’s soccer team has earned a bid into its first-ever NCAA Tournament, Long Beach State’s road will prove to be a tough one.

The 49ers, placed in the UCLA regional with the potential of facing top-seeded and No. 2 UCLA in the second round, will have to survive their first round match-up against the 17th-ranked University of San Diego.

The other side of the bracket features a match-up between UCLA and the Fresno State Bulldogs.

Both matches will be played Friday at UCLA’s Drake Stadium, with the 49ers-Toreros match scheduled to begin at 8 p.m., immediately following the Bruins-Bulldogs match.

Long Beach State (14-4-4) vs. No. 17 San Diego (14-4-2), 8 p.m.

Long Beach State enters as an at-large selection after being outlasted by UC Santa Barbara, 6-5, in a penalty-kick shootout in the Big West Conference Championship match. The Toreros, also an at-large choice, lost 4-1 to the University of Portland in the West Coast Conference championship match.

USD defeated the ‘Niners, 1-0, Oct. 8 at George Allen Field. The Toreros, who hold an all-time 8-0-0 edge over LBSU, are led by Jen Mello’s 11 goals and 24 points. Defensively, USD features goalkeeper Brittany Cameron, who has a goals-against average of 0.78 and posted eight shutouts this year.

The ‘Niners, who dropped out of the Top-25, will counter with a pair of 10-goal scorers in Hayley Bolt and Lindsay Bullock. Bolt enters with 22 points, and Bullock with 21. Defensively, the 49ers counter with Liz Ramos, who has a goals-against average of 0.66 and is credited with 8 1/2 of the team’s 10 shutouts.

ESPN.com’s Graham Hays wrote it “should be a fantastic first-round game,” and that either team “could test the Pac-10 champion [Bruins] in the second round.”

Fresno State (11-8-2) vs. No. 2 UCLA (18-0-2), 5:30 p.m.

Fresno State earned an automatic bid with a 2-1 victory over Utah State in the Western Athletic Conference championship match.

The Bulldogs feature Nicole Gutierrez, who scored seven goals and 14 total points, and Ali Sill’s five goals and 15 total points. Defensively in goal, the Bulldogs have Katilyn Revel, who owns a 0.89 goals-against average with 113 saves.

The Bruins enter the tournament as one of four No. 1 seeds and have allowed just four goals all season. Kristina Larsen leads the way for the Bruins with 10 goals and 23 total points, with Lauren Cheney a close second with nine goals and 24 total points. Defensively, goalkeeper Ashley Thompson has a miniscule goals-against average of 0.21 (67 saves) and is credited with 11 of the team’s 16 shutouts.

*The winner of the UCLA Regional will face the winner of the Brigham Young University Regional in the third round on Nov. 21, 22 or 23; either BYU, No. 4-seeded Southern California, Virginia Tech or Boston University

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