Soccer, Sports, Women's Sports

No. 11 LBSU women’s soccer ready for tough road test

The 11th-ranked Long Beach State women’s soccer team will head to Brigham Young University for its first road game of the season before returning home for a Sunday matchup with Michigan.

The 49ers (3-0) will be playing in a tough road environment this Thursday, when they visit BYU (2-1) during the Cougars’ home opener.

“They are very hard to beat at their place,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “It’s going to be a nice challenge for our team.”

The ‘Niners have had their fair share of challenges already, as two of their three victories have been earned in overtime.

With home crowds of more than 550 for each of those games, they had much more support then than they will in Utah.

“The biggest thing is the momentum swing,” Ingrassia said. “The home team always gets more momentum. But the players are excited and ready to go.”

BYU traditionally has been a very difficult team to beat on the road. Since 2005, the Cougars have only lost eight homes games – an average of just more than one per season. They have also advanced to the NCAA tournament in six of those seven years, with the lone failure being 2011.

If the ‘Niners plan on leaving the 2,140-seat South Field with a victory, they will have to bottle up BYU forward Jaiden Thornock, who currently leads the Cougars in goals. Through three games she has already scored twice, including the game-winner in an overtime win over University of California, Irvine.

Leading the defensive effort for the 49ers is reigning Big West Defensive Player of the Week Alex Balcer. Balcer, who is the defensive captain, has also contributed two goals through the first three games thanks to a pair of well-placed free kicks.

Following its test in Utah, LBSU will return to George Allen field for a Sunday-night game against Michigan.

The Wolverines (4-0) are off to their best start since 2002, when they began their season with five wins. They are hitting the road for the first time this season as well and will face Cal State Northridge before visiting The Beach.

Leading the offense for Michigan are forwards Shelby Chambers-Garcia and Meghan Toohey. The two have combined for three goals and two assists thus far, taking 17 shots in the process.

The Wolverines have also put together a few stingy defensive efforts, as goalkeeper Hayley Kopmeyer has recorded three shutouts so far. She is closing in on school records in shutouts and saves for her career.

LBSU is looking to improve upon its best start since 2006 and rise even further in the national rankings.

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