For the first time this season the Long Beach State women’s soccer team must contemplate defeat. Under the circumstances, frustration is forgivable. In the 77th minute, ’Niner defender Bo Rael stood up UNLV ‘s Haley Partridge, who was trying to back down Rael ten yards away from the goal. Rael whipped her leg around her to poke the ball away—Partridge hit the grass and the ref blew his whistle.
A minute later Shannon Hughes netted the penalty kick, giving UNLV the lead and the eventual win. The call was suspect to say the least, especially with a scoreless match in hand. But Long Beach State couldn’t make any excuses as they failed to hit on many scoring opportunities outshooting UNLV 17 to six.
”I just think we were playing on their end the whole game,” said ‘Niners head coach Mauricio Ingrassia of the team’s performance. “We respond the way we needed to [after the penalty shot] but we needed to get that goal back. And unfortunately it didn’t happen.”
The loss brings the Niners record to 3-1-1 heading into next week’s home action versus BYU (Thursday, September 11) and Oregon (Sunday, September 14). Because the ‘Niners set the tempo early, outplaying the Rebels in every aspect of the first half I decided to write a running journal of the second half. I could tell it was going to be a close finish. Plus if you read this you will get “expert” insight and a nice guide heading into this week’s games.
12:50 p.m. It’s halftime and despite a half of competitive Division I soccer, I can’t help but get excited for my official NFL kick off, when the Chargers take the field against the Panthers. Expectations are at an all time high for the Bolts. Management has done a good job keeping a great roster intact over the past five years and now it is time to see the results. It is Super Bowl or bust, no excuses.
On that note, my buddy from San Diego—we’ll call him “Jigga” because that’s what everyone calls him—is up here helping me move apartments. But with an impressive soccer resume stretching over a decade, I figure his eye for detail will help come in handy and bring a voice to this piece.
12:56 p.m. Four minutes till the start of the second half, 19 mins to Chargers kick off.
1:00 The Niners and Rebels fill the field to their positions. Long Beach State showing off a new look for the young 2008 season. They came out today wearing a bright gold top with black numbers and black shorts and socks. It’s a nice alternate look, perhaps for football season kickoff? Okay enough football references all ready, I’ll stop. Anyways, I am a sucker for those crisp all-whites they usually sport at home games but this is a nice change. Like my high school baseball coach always said, “You look good, you play good.” So let’s just say I expect the “W.”
1:02 Right away the ‘Niners pick off where they left off in the first, attacking. Sophomore forward Kristen Kiefer is called offside on a lob pass from Dan Farquhar. I try mentioning something to “Jigga” but he ignores me, he’s into the game and so I should be.
1:03. The ‘Niners counter a harmless Rebel shot, with a series of precise touches (think this minus the spectacular goals). Yeraldy Hurtado has contributed some good minutes, as well as passes lately, being noticeably more confident with the ball each outing.
1:05 Senior Sara Baca does as she has done for three years in the backline, stuffing a Rebel shot. In fact this whole defense has helped make ‘Niner goalkeepers job a lot easier, so easy even a caveman could do it. I must add (cause Jigga keeps mentioning to put in my article) that the ‘Niners defense is very composed—dropping the ball back effectively to Breanna Truelove ending any sniff of a threat for the Rebels.
1:08 Hayley Bolt’s shot gets rejected by the UNLV goalkeeper after a sweet Lindsey Bullock lob pass. Bolt boxes-out on headers better than any girl I have seen at the Div. I level and a lot of that has to do with her instinct to always be in the right spot.
1:10 A series of “missed” calls from the refs get the Long Beach faithful to sound off their opinions. And if I could write some of the things being mentioned about the ref and his whistle, I would but I don’t think my mother—or editor—would approve. [Editor’s note: good call, Serge!]
1:13 Farquhar shows her skills, zigzagging between defenders, taking a shot, deflecting it off a defender for the corner. Long Beach State has been extremely effective off set pieces this year mostly because off the addition of size. Transfer, Bo Rael, and frosh Nicole Hubbard have showed they can get up for header and of course there is Bolt ‘n Bullock’s relentless aerial attacks. Now they jus got to put the ball in the net. Still, nil-nil.
1:14 On each UNLV goal kick a group of student fans, fully equipped with Long Beach State gear and black and gold striped socks, serenade the goalie with a “gooooooooooo beeach!” Or was it something else? Either way that’s what it sounded like.
1:15 Seniors Mariko Strickland and Sahar Haghdan check in to the scorers’ table.
They’ll come in on the next whistle for Kim Silos and Yeraldy Hurtado. That’s the beauty of this team, your replacing all Big-West talent with all Big-West talent OFF THE BENCH. Long Beach State’s roster is stacked just like the Chargers. Look at their bench where they have four players with international soccer experience. And speaking of the Chargers, it’s game time.
1:18 Bullock gets her knockdown of the game and its worthy of making Tom Jackson’s “Jacked Up,” it kind of remind me of this hit. Bullock’s is going to be the Big West Bully for years to come. Opponents beware number seven in Black and Gold.
1:19 I check ESPN.com on my Sidekick to see the Chargers score and first thing I notice is Tom Brady got injured for the Pats as they still hold on to the lead.
I should mention that I have written my last three articles on my phone, mainly because my laptop broke. A phone with a keypad is a luxury in this profession, I’ve learned. This is called it intuitive journalism—or maybe I’m just being cheap and don’t want to fork up the cash to fix the laptop. P.S. This entire report is also being done with no handwritten notes, no recorder no nothing, so I guess it’s more like “naked” journalism?
1:23 I’m sweating and I am in the shade. I can only imagine how it is on the field. But coach Ingrassia has emphasized his team’s dedication to conditioning in the offseason. And it is obvious when two-thirds into the game the ‘Niners are still running full speed and the Rebels look like they are riding on spares.
1:27 I don’t like to talk too much about officiating but I think I saw them get off the UNLV bus before the game. It has been a poorly officiated game. And you hate to see officiating change the course of matches, I just hope it doesn’t affect the outcome.
I just notice Long Beach State’s last two opponents are completely stereotyped in opposite fashion. Harvard is an Ivy League school, and even if they don’t beat you in soccer they will likely have a better job than most of us. UNLV is the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas for goodness sake. Where the football players graduate and become club bouncers, so that would mean the women’s soccer team retires and becomes–?? Nevermind.
1:28 Frosh Shawna Gordon comes into the game for Strickland, a senior. Moves like this show Ingrassia’s confidence in younger players and it also shows that he is not scared of taking chances.
He has also proved it by flip-flopped goalies Liz Ramos (perhaps the most decorated and record breaking goalkeeper in Long Beach State history) and Breanna Truelove (a goalie who has shown enormous maturity and decision-making abilities) each game this season.
1:29 For those of you who don’t know in college soccer the clock counts down unlike the accustomed soccer clock that counts up with added minutes for stoppage time. In college soccer, you can actually score a buzzer-beating goal.
1:29 Gordon wins the “girliest run on the team” award, and that’s not a shot at her. She really runs like a girl, but she plays like a baller: A top-75 national recruit and member of the United States under-18 national team.
1:31 The one thing I didn’t want to happen, happened. The refs award UNLV a penalty shot when Bo Rael had a girl leaning on her and she tried to wrap her leg around the player to poke the ball away. The Rebel defender, a drama major I’ll assume, hit the grass and the call was made.
1:32 Shannon Hughes puts it in the net, as Truelove commits right and sees the back hit the top-left corner. And the ref is hearing it from the fans. “Let the girls decide the game” is yelled and it’s a fair proposition. Only 12 minutes left, be interesting to see how the ‘Niners respond.
The nature of the penalty call is still very cloudy. It is a play that doesn’t get called if it’s a professional game cause most pro’s find a way to trip on wind, and refs try hard not to fall for it but I guess the ref felt there was a push, or she hooked her, I really don’t know what the ref was thinking. Nonetheless it’s a call that should not be made in a zero-zero game. I still hope it doesn’t affect the outcome of the game.
1:33 I ask Jigga if it was a penalty and he looks at me and says the first word he has spoken in 15 minutes, from being so into the game, he says “naw” and turns back to the action.
1:34 Didn’t notice but Kim Silos and Kiefer are back in the game, and immediate work together for a corner. In case you don’t listen to our podcast, Kiefer is fast. And it’s odd, because her strides are so mechanically sound and effortless, it looks like she slows the game down rather than her speeding up. And it’s a Sonic the hedgehog-like burst.
1:35 There is a physical play in the UNLV goalie box and it got the fans begging for a penalty, sarcastically of course.
1:36 Sahar Haghdan wins a corner kicking it off a UNLV defender, and she does this better than most. Her awareness and ability to stay composed with the ball makes me think her parent put a plush soccer ball in her crib as an infant. She is fun to keep an eye on, you never know what she is going to do with the ball.
1:37 As I finish typing, I hear Jigga go “Ohhhh” and I look up and Haghdan is in a battle for a ball. “She just kicked a ball between a defenders leg and tried to run by her,” he said. Luckily I’ve seen her do some crazy things with the ball. Think this, but with a soccer ball at the feet.
1:37 The ‘Niners feel the urgency and pressure to score evident by Chantel Hubbard’s front-flip thrown in. I don’t really know how to describe it so check this out . Unfortunately it was headed weakly, no damage, no equalizer, cool play.
1:40. Kiefer gets fouled just outside 18 yards box drawing a free kick and only five minutes left in the game. Farquhar bends in center for Bolt who sent it over the crossbar on a header. Bringing the “Ohhh, ahhh” out of the crowd.
1:41 UNLV attacks and loses the ball in ‘Niners territory. Coach Ingrassia urges on the counter yelling “Quickly, insideHayley.” Just the fact that he is yelling loud enough to where we can hear on the other side of the field says it all.
1:42 Kiefer runs down a clearance ball sending in a nice pass to Silos, whose left-footed chip shot sailed over the crossbar.
1:44 Sports Information Director Neill Adler is mc’ing the game and lets everyone about the two-minute warning. Again Silos pulls the trigger on a shot from outside the 18-yard box that again just flailed wide of the top left corner.
1:45 One minute left on the clock and you can hear the clock ticking from about 100 yards away. Maybe we will have a buzzer-beating equalizer today?
Maybe not, as Silos’ third shot in as many minutes scattered harmlessly to the right of the goal. And even then the goalie kick goes out of bounds around midfield with 15 seconds left. But nothing was made of it and the horn sounds. UNLV wins 1-0 despite Long Beach outshooting them 1,076 to four, or at least that’s how it seemed.
1:47 Fans scream “the red team won, the red team won,” implying the refs had won.
1:48 As we walk to the other side of the field to find coach, Jigga flexes his soccer knowledge, when I ask him to sum up the game: “Sometimes the ball just doesn’t want to go in the net.”
Perfect. Short, sweet and to the point, don’t you wish he had done this running journal?