It took Long Beach State two minutes to score in its 3-1 win over the UCSB women’s soccer team on Sunday afternoon at LBSU’s George Allen Field, two days after the Gauchos opened conference play with a 2-1 win over UC Riverside (1-9-2 overall).
“We were super frazzled,” senior defender Julia Speace said. “Usually when you’re on the weak side defense you’re supposed make some sort of buffer zone, but it just didn’t happen.”
The 49ers (8-3-2 overall, 1-0-1 Big West) notched the goal — its quickest in the program’s history — when Shawna Gordon sent a lead pass over the Gauchos’ back line.
The pass, which Speace estimated at 50 yards, was accepted by Long Beach’s leading scorer, Nadia Link, who beat the Gauchos’ freshman goalkeeper Makenna Henry with a shot to the far post.
“[Link] took a very awkward angle,” Henry said. “I came out and made myself big, but [the ball] just went into the goal. We didn’t listen to the coaches about anticipating the long ball.”
UCSB responded with a goal of its own at the six-minute mark when senior Kailyn Kugler was left alone in the middle of the box. Kugler has posted three goals in her last four matches, scoring on Friday against Riverside in her first game back from injury.
“She’s a vital player, considering that it all starts with the front holding onto the ball to release pressure,” fellow senior forward Erica Seidman said. “We missed her.”
Long Beach’s second goal came after a handball was called in the box. Henry blocked the penalty kick attempt, but Gordon rebounded the save and kicked the ball into the lower right corner.
“In my mind, the referee was in no position to call that [handball],” said Henry, who tallied six saves in the match.
Long Beach outshot the Gauchos 9-5 in the second half, scoring its third and final goal off a header at the 59-minute mark. However, UCSB has outshot opponents 180 to 137 this season.
“It was honestly just our level of energy,” Henry said. “It was so low. We just weren’t mentally cohesive.”
According to Henry, Seidman and Speace, the opposite was apparent in Friday’s win over UC Riverside.
“Since we were coming into conference, we were hyped up about playing a game that [actually] mattered,” said Seidman, who accompanied Kylie McDonald on the stat sheet with her team-leading fourth goal of the season in the first half of Friday’s match.
The Gauchos were predicted to finish first in the conference in a preseason poll of Big West coaches, but Big West foes #23 UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge have already jumped to 2-0 starts in conference play. UCSB faces both teams this coming weekend at Harder Stadium, hosting the Matadors on Friday at 7:00 p.m. and the Anteaters at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. The team will remain home for five consecutive matches.
“We need to find a better way to prepare for those one o’clock Sunday games,” Speace said. “We need to find a way to bounce back quickly. [And] we just need to find a way to keep our energy up the whole weekend.”