Soccer, Sports, Women's Sports

CSULB women’s soccer overcame unseen adversity in 2019

“This season was just a big learning experience,” Laramie said.

A 2-5-1 Big West Conference record doesn’t tell the story of the tremendous obstacles which the Long Beach State women’s soccer battled through during the 2019 season.

“The team responded to a season full of challenges with their best,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “They stayed together till the very end.”

The Beach faced an uphill battle during the season due to an inexperienced roster and unlucky breaks in the form of injuries and close shots at the net. 

Junior defender Kaylee Ramirez was the Beach’s only returning starter who also made consistent starts last year. Redshirt sophomore defender Myah Baksh, who transferred from Santa Clara, did not play for the Broncos in 2018.

Senior midfielder Taylor Bistline saw playing time for the Beach in 2018, but was forced to play limited minutes this season due to surgery in the offseason to repair a torn labrum. Junior defender Kaitlin Fregulia missed all of last season with multiple tears in her right leg and was playing through pain this season.

Then the Beach was struck with misfortune as it learned that junior forward Kayla Cannon would have to sit out during Big West play with a pre-existing injury she was attempting to play through.

“In conference she would be very successful as a winger,” Ingrassia said. 

Cannon is expected to make a full recovery by the end of the academic year. 

In the context of this adversity, the Beach’s accomplishments this season are particularly impressive. Long Beach outshot its opponent in six of its eight conference games this year.

Long Beach faltered on the defensive end, where its inexperience was exploited by conference opponents with seasoned upperclassmen forwards.

“In college soccer you have to be able to win a game 1-0,” Ingrassia said. “We were just leaking in goals at bad times in the beginning of a game so we basically chased all season.”

Despite the overall defensive problems, Long Beach redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Seymour still had a breakout season. Her goals-against average in conference play was fourth-best among qualifying players, ending the season with an impressive .789 save percentage. 

“She belonged out there,” Ingrassia said. “It’s a testament to her work ethic.”

In the frontline, sophomore defender/forward Elysia Laramie led the Beach in scoring and finished second in the conference in shots on goal per game. Laramie showed the ability this season to power through defenders with her size and athleticism while also displaying surprising one-on-one talent dribbling the ball.

“This season was just a big learning experience,” Laramie said.

Long Beach found offensive depth in the second half of the season. Sophomore midfielder/forward Sierra Castles found her stride scoring from outside the box against UC Riverside  Oct. 24. Castles worked on her distance-shot throughout the rest of the season, perfecting it into a reliable weapon heading into the 2020 season.

The Beach will lose only three players to graduation after this season, meaning next year’s squad will not have to overcome the inexperience and inconsistency that the Beach faced in 2019. 

“There’s a lot we can learn from each game we played and we’re gonna come back next year strong,” Laramie said.

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