Soccer, Sports, Women's Sports

Long Beach State shooting for undefeated weekend in NorCal

The Long Beach State women’s soccer team will make a northern California swing this weekend to play a pair of games that have huge implications for the Big West Conference race.

The 49ers (9-5, 2-2 Big West) are a surprising sixth in the conference standings, two places out of having a spot in the postseason Big West tournament. They must go undefeated over their final five regular-season games to make up ground and seal a spot in the postseason.

LBSU will travel 400 miles through the center of California to UC Davis (7-5-1, 2-1 Big West) for a game on Friday afternoon. The ‘Niners will then complete their road trip in Stockton, where they will play a Sunday afternoon match against Pacific (3-8-1, 0-2-1 Big West).

UC Davis has endured a trio of close games in the conference play so far, but it has emerged as victors twice thanks to freshman forward Sienna Drizin. Drizin scored the golden goal in an overtime win over UC Santa Barbara and was responsible for a pair of scores in the Aggies’ 3-2 win over Pacific three days ago. Her four goals on the season tier her for the team lead with forward Ashley Edwards, who also has two assists to her name.

The Aggies are currently tied for fourth in the Big West standings. For The Beach, a head-to-head win is essential to earning a berth in the end-of-year tournament.

Next up is Pacific. After being blown out by Cal Poly in their conference opener, the Tigers were forced to settle for a tie with UC Santa Barbara the same weekend. Leading the team is junior forward Maricela Padilla, who has scored six goals this season.

The biggest obstacles this weekend for the 49ers, however, are injuries. The ‘Niners have lost several key players over the last few weeks, including defender Jordan Nelson.

“Any team is going to feel it when their starting center back is not there,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said after a lack of defensive depth led to Sunday’s loss. “I didn’t think it was terrible. I just thought that maybe we got a little fatigued and made some mistakes, and they capitalized.”

Also out with injuries are midfielders Marie MacKenzie and Renee Mendiola.

Among those who are healthy, however, are forward Nadia Link and midfielder Eileen Maes. The offensive leaders on the 49ers, Link and Maes have each scored six times this year. Link also has eight assists to her name, and Maes has three.

LBSU will rely on that duo once again as it takes on UC Davis and Pacific and tries to climb its way back into the top tier of the Big West standings.

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