Gauchos Fall to Long Beach in Big West Tournament Title Game, 2-0

Sydney Magnin (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Sydney Magnin (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

IRVINE, Calif. - The No. 2 seeded UC Santa Barbara women's soccer team allowed a goal in each half of Sunday's Big West Tournament Championship Game, falling to top-seeded Long Beach State 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at Anteater Field.

The loss ended the Gauchos (13-7-1) six-match unbeaten streak and moves the 49ers (12-5-3) into the NCAA Tournament which begins next weekend.

Twentieth-year head coach Paul Stumpf said "The only thing I'm disappointed about is the result. The performance was good enough to get at least a goal and keep us in the game, but we couldn't find a way to get the ball in. As far as the team goes, the performance- I couldn't be happier."

Long Beach State scored the opening goal of the championship match in the 26th minute when forward Ashley Gonzales snuck a close-range free kick in between a Gaucho defender and the four-player wall inside of junior goalkeeper Hanna DeWeese's left post.

The goal was Gonzales's seventh of the season.

The score remained 1-0 the remainder of the first half, but Long Beach doubled the advantage almost 11 minutes into the second half when Dana Fujikuni scored off of an attempted clearance by DeWeese. The goal was unassisted.

While the score was 2-0, the game was relatively even. Long Beach heled just a 16-15 edge in shots overall and each team had five shots on frame. DeWeese notched three saves for the Gauchos while Imani McDonald stopped all five of the shots she faced.

The Gauchos' best chance of the game came in the 45th minute when senior defensive midfielder Sydney Magnin tested McDonald from range, aiming a effort towards the top right corner of goal that required McDonald to acrobatically tip the shot over the crossbar at full stretch.

Magnin and junior forward Shaelan Murison each had three overall shots for Santa Barbara and Murison had two of her team's shots on frame.

"These players worked tirelessly day in and day out. I can't be much prouder of the effort, the quality of their performances, the results, and the growth of these people," Stumpf said of the team in the postgame press conference.

Senior midfielder Madeline Gibson was one of six seniors who played their final game for the Gauchos this afternoon.

Joining Stumpf and fellow senior right back and longtime teammate Mallory Hromatko at the podium, Gibson remarked "I'm very proud of our entire team and how far we've made it. Making it as far as we did, we can't complain. I think every person on the team gave their maximum effort."