Los Angeles Soccer: Alex Laughton
MALIBU -- Nadia Link has netted some wonderful goals this season, but few as sweet -- and none as important -- as her bending blast Saturday afternoon at Pepperdine.
Link fired into the far corner of the net with 13 seconds to go in the first overtime period to lift Long Beach State to a 1-0 triumph over the seventh-ranked Waves in an NCAA Division I tournament opener.
It was the first NCAA victory in 49ers history, and the first over a top-10 opponent, and it was product on Link's twisting shot and five big saves by goalkeeper Kaitlyn Gustaves.
“That's seven years of work -- seven and a half years ...,” said Long Beach State coach Mauricio Ingrassia, who has the 49ers in the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years. “We had a couple of injuries [when we lost in the first round to San Diego] in '08. And last year we played our best game of the year against Santa Clara, but [their goalkeeper] had the game of her life. This year we felt we had the experience. It would have been very painful to be 0-3 in the tournament without scoring a goal.”
The goal was a beauty. Link (Rowland Heights/Walnut HS) received a pass from midfielder Sidney Garza (Ventura /Buena HS), took the ball up the left flank, then cut inside along the top of the Waves box, where she found uncommon space.
She's a left-footer, but the shot was on her right, and it twisted away -- “corkscrewed,” is how Pepperdine coach Tim Ward put it -- toward the upper-right. Waves goalkeeper Roxanne Barker (Irvine/Woodbridge HS) never had a chance.
“The team was asking why did I wait so long,” said Link, who tied the school record with her 16th goal of the season. “I saw the pass coming from Sidney Garza, and all I heard was Mauricio saying, 'Take it down the line!' And I remember thinking, 'That's a long way.' ... It went in, and I don't even remember celebrating. I was too busy crying.”
Said Ward: “A moment was going to decide the game, and that moment [belonged to] Nadia Link. ... A great player scored a great goal to beat us.”
Link described the odd path of her shot as “the unpredictability of my right foot.”
The strike brought a dramatic end to a tight, thrilling clash marked by superb defense in the boxes, with Long Beach State's backline -- especially center back Jordan Nelson (Garden Grove/Pacifica HS and Loyola Marymount) -- doing well to get in the way of shots by Lynn Williams and Laura Cole (Whittier/La Habra HS).
Gustaves (Long Beach/Wilson HS) came up big five times, including a double-save, the second with her foot, on Amanda LeCave after an uncharacteristic giveaway by defender Alex Balcer. The goalkeeper followed up by snagging a long shot by right back Michelle Pao, Pepperdine's most dangerous attacker, then made two diving saves on Williams in the second half.
Long Beach advances to a second-round clash Friday against Miami (10-7-1), a 3-2 winner over Alabama, at UCLA's Drake Stadium.
In other women's action:
- Freshman Kylie McCarthy knocked home a 65th-minute rebound as No. 2 UCLA (16-1-3) scored a 1-0 victory over visiting New Mexico (12-5-4) in an NCAA Division I first-round game. The Bruins limited the Mountain West Conference champion to three shots, just two on target, in a dominant performance en route to a second-round clash Friday in Westwood against San Diego.
Top-seeded Redlands and No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps romped to easy victories in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men's soccer tournament openers Wednesday night to set up a showdown for a berth in the NCAA Division III championship bracket.
Charles Izydorek (Redlands/Arrowhead Christian Academy) scored his 13th goals of the season just before halftime, then set up Alex Laughton as Redlands (18-3-0) pulled away to a 3-0 victory over visiting Pomona-Pitzer (10-9-0). Cody Carlson (Burbank/Burbank HS) scored his 12th for the Bulldogs, who will be home for Saturday's tournament title game.
Connor Doyle (Hidden Hills/Calabasas HS) scored twice and drew a penalty kick for a third goal to lead Claremont (13-5-1) in a 4-0 rout of Whittier (9-9-0), setting up a rematch of last year's tournament final, won by the Stags.
Redlands, ranked 15th in the Division III poll, won its second successive SCIAC regular-season title, going 12-0 in conference play with two victories over Claremont -- 3-0 at home and 3-1 away.
In other men's action:
- UC Irvine clinched a share of the Big West Conference title when Jesse Vega (Whittier/La Serna HS) quickly answered a UC Davis strike to give visiting Cal State Fullerton (7-6-5) a 1-1 draw. Dan Reese provided a 70th-minute lead for Davis (5-3-1 BWC), which would win a tiebreaker with UCI (6-3-1 BWC) for the top seed in the conference tournament if it beats UC Riverside in its regular-season finale. Vega scored less than three minutes later -- and just 48 seconds after Mark Vasquez (Fullerton/Whittier Christian HS) was red-carded, leaving the Titans a man down. Two more red cards, one for each side, were issued in overtime.
Cesar Diaz Pizarro struck with 2½ minutes to play Friday night, and UC Riverside completed a comeback for a 3-2 men's soccer triumph at UC Irvine, its third victory this season over a nationally ranked opponent.
The triumph leaves the Highlanders (9-5-2), who have twice beaten UC Santa Barbara this season, in position to qualify for the Big West Conference tournament and took command of the league's title race from ninth-ranked Irvine (13-5-1) and gave it to second-place UC Davis.
UCR twice rallied from deficits, with Jose Diaz (Corona/Santiago HS) answering Cameron Iwasa's early goal and Humberto Santiago scoring in the 79th minute to pull the Highlanders even after Christian Hernandez (Palmdale/Palmdale HS) provided a 2-1 edge to the Anteaters in the 68th.
Pizarro (Chino/Ayala HS) scored his team-best ninth goal -- and school-record eighth career winning goal -- in the 88th minute.
UCI remains atop the standings with 16 points from a 5-3-1 conference record, but UC Davis (5-3), one point behind, has two games remaining, one more than the Anteaters. UCR (4-3-2) and UC Santa Barbara (4-4) also are in the race.
In other men's action:
- Luis Silva (Los Angeles/Salesian HS) scored twice and assisted two more goals as UC Santa Barbara (11-5-1) held on for a 4-3 victory at Cal State Fullerton (7-6-4) to climb into fourth place, putting the Gauchos into position to qualify for the Big West tournament. UCSB finishes its regular season with games against Cal State Northridge and Cal Poly, its closest pursuers.
- Cal State Northridge (7-7-3) settled for its second successive scoreless draw, against visiting Cal Poly, and sits fifth, one spot outside a Big West tournament berth, with two games to go.
- Paul Islas tallied twice and Fresno Pacific held on for a 4-3 victory over Concordia (12-3-1), No. 8 in the NAIA rankings, in a showdown for the Golden State Athletic Conference title. Edgar Orozco (Santa Ana/Santa Ana HS, Corona HS and Golden West College) scored twice and added an assist for the Eagles.
Kevin Schulte's second goal of the night sunk No. 7 UC Irvine, lifting UC Davis to a 2-1 overtime triumph and into a share of the Big West Conference lead in men's soccer.
Schulte (Riverside/M.L. King HS) tallied from a give-and-go with John Joslin (Santa Ana/Foothill HS) 8½ minutes into the extra period as the Aggies (6-6-2) pulled off the upset Wednesday night at Anteater Stadium.
Lester Hayes III gave UCI (12-4-0) a 28th-minute lead, but Schulte pulled UC Davis even in the 60th.
The Anteaters, at 4-2, dropped into a tie with UC Davis, three points ahead of Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge, which also were beaten Wednesday.
In other men's action:
- Hayden Leslie (Apple Valley/Apple Valley Christian) scored in the 88th minute and Ivan Garcia (Corona/Santiago HS) with just 19 seconds remaining in regulation to lead UC Riverside (7-5-2) to a 2-1 triumph over Cal State Northridge (6-7-1). The Highlanders ended a four-game winless skid by keeping CSUN from a share of the Big West lead.
- Jameson Campbell (Diamond Bar/Diamond Bar HS) tallied in the seventh minute, and Cal State Fullerton (7-4-3) ended a five-game winless streak, claiming its first Big West win with a 1-0 triumph over Cal Poly. The Mustangs, at 3-3, are three points off the Big West lead.
- Osvaldo Bastida (Anaheim/Katella HS) scored a hat trick, Michael Salazar (Moreno Valley/Canyon Springs HS) added two goals and both contributed an assist as Cal Baptist (10-4-0) romped to a 6-0 Pacific West Conference victory at BYU Hawaii.
The match was a showdown between two of the Big West's three two-win teams and sent the seventh-ranked Anteaters (11-2-0) to 3-1, ahead of Northridge (5-5-1) at 2-1 and UC Davis at 2-2.
Ibarra (Lancaster/Lancaster HS) gave Irvine a 58th-minute lead through a give-and-go with Jimmy Turner (Mission Viejo/Misson Viejo HS) and a deflection off a Matadors defender. Memo Licona (Lake Forest/Laguna Hills HS) set up the second goal in the 89th minute.
In other men's action:
- Sam Garza scored in the seventh minute of overtime, and No. 19 UC Santa Barbara (8-3-1) toppled UC Davis, 2-1, for its first Big West victory. The Gauchos lost their first two conference games, to UC Riverside and UC Irvine, but bounced back Wednesday with a 3-2 overtime victory over third-ranked Akron.
- Osvaldo Bastida (Anaheim/Katella HS) scored in the first half for Cal Baptist (7-4-0) in a 1-0 win over Western Washington at the Grand Canyon Tournament in Phoenix.
- Redlands (11-3-0) is closing in on the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title following a 2-0 victory at second-place Pomona-Pitzer (6-5-0) on goals by Alex Laughton and Will Walker. The Bulldogs are 8-0-0 in SCIAC play; the Sagehens fell to 5-2-0.