Los Angeles Soccer: Enrique Cardenas
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.
Chandler Hoffman's first collegiate hat trick couldn't have come at a more opportune time.
The junior forward from Alabama netted three goals in 20 minutes of the second half Friday night, carrying UCLA to a 3-2 triumph over No. 6 UC Santa Barbara in a nonconference showdown between big-time soccer rivals that drew 2,965 to the Bruins' Drake Stadium.
UCLA (3-2-1), which is ranked by Soccer America but is not in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America top 25, overcame a first-half deficit as Chandler scored in the 52nd, 68th and 71st minutes, the first two off assists by All-American Kelyn Rowe.
Hoffman, who has seven goals in the Bruins' first six games (after scoring 13 in 13 Premier Development League appearances for Orange County Blue Star this summer), tied a school record by tallying in his fifth successive game.
“It's been really good to find the back of the net,” Hoffman said in a video posted on UCLA's athletics web site. “My parents were here tonight, so it's always fun to score when they're here. It's always fun to beat UCSB.”
James Kiffe gave the Gauchos (4-1-1) a 35th-minute lead, but UCLA -- with Rowe and Ryan Hollingshead making the difference in midfield -- took command early in the second half. Sam Garza converted a 73rd-minute penalty to cut the deficit to a goal, but Santa Barbara couldn't create chances for an equalizer.
UC Irvine had final-four aims a year ago, when head coach George Kuntz's talented, senior-heavy team climbed into the top 10 before an upset loss to Cal State Fullerton in the conference tournament and a poor RPI kept it out of the NCAA tournament, one of the most stunning omissions we've seen in the men's soccer brackets.
Expectations this fall aren't so towering. The Anteaters were picked fourth in the Big West Conference's preseason coaches poll, behind UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly and Fullerton.
Might want to rethink that.
Irvine is off to a 6-0-0 start for the first time in school history after rallying twice from first-half deficits, then pulling away to a 4-2 non-conference victory Sunday at Midwest power Illinois-Chicago.
Enrique Cardenas (Coachella/Coachella Valley HS) scored in the 58th minute and Christopher Santana in the 77th to lift the Anteaters, who are No. 9 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America men's Division I rankings.
UIC (2-1-2) went ahead twice, on goals off corner kicks by Zach Kaleta in the fourth minute and Craig Krzyskowski in the 22nd, but UCI answered immediately both times, through Christian Hernandez (Palmdale/Palmdale HS) in the 13th and Jonathan Rivas (Norwalk/Santa Fe HS and Cerritos College) in the 24th.
In other men's action:
- Ryan Lee and Chandler Hoffman scored first-half goals to lead UCLA (2-2-1) past 10-man Loyola Marymount (2-3-0). The Bruins dominated the game, outfiring LMU, 13-4; the Lions were handicapped when Logan McDaniel (Palmdale/Quartz Hills HS) was red-carded in the 14th minute, just 23 seconds after Lee tallied.
- Jesse Escalante (Placentia/Valencia HS) and Nick Posthuma (Pasadena/St. Francis HS) scored to lead Cal State Fullerton (4-0-1) past San Francisco, 2-0, to win UNLV's event, the Titans' second tournament championship in as many weekends.
- Cal State Northridge (2-3-0), just seven minutes from victory, surrendered three goals in 97 seconds and lost, 3-1, to New Mexico in the decisive encounter of the Lobos' tournament. Gustavo Villalobos (Van Nuys/Birmingham HS) tallied for the Matadors in the 35th minute.
UCLA finally has a victory. Another might boost the Bruins back into the top 25.Chandler Hoffman scored his third goal of the season and All-American Kelyn Rowe added another to lift UCLA (1-2-1), one of the chief preseason NCAA title favorites, to a 2-1 triumph Friday night over St. Mary's at Drake Stadium.
The Bruins, ranked sixth in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America preseason poll (and as high as No. 2 elsewhere), dropped out of the top 25 following losses to Louisville and UC Davis and a draw at Santa Clara.
Hoffman, who has eight goals in his last 10 games for the Bruins, finished a sequence from Shawn Singh and Eder Arreola (Chino Hills/Chino Hills HS) three minutes into the second half. Rowe's goal, a magnificent blast from just wide of the box to inside the far post, made it 2-0 in the 73rd minute.
UCLA takes on Loyola Marymount on Sunday at 5 p.m. on the Bruins' North Athletic Field.
In other men's action:
- Everett Pitts (Chino Hills/Ayala HS) volleyed home a rebound 16 minutes into overtime to lift No. 9 UC Irvine (5-0-0) to a 3-2 triumph at Wisconsin. The Badgers (2-2-0) rallied after Enrique Cardenas (Coachella/Coachella Valley HS) provided the Anteaters a 2-0 lead with a pair of yeoman's goals in the first six minutes of the second half.
- Kevin Venegas (Lakewood/Los Alamitos HS) sent Cal State Fullerton (3-0-1) to a 2-1 win over UW Green Bay at UNLV's tournament, converting a 73rd-minute penalty kick for the winner.
- Chris Smith (Palmdale/Quartz Hill HS) fed goals by Taylor Bowlin and Yarden Azulay as Cal State Northridge (2-2-0) romped, 3-0, over Missouri State at New Mexico's tournament.