Los Angeles Soccer: Eric Bean
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.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps did it again, prevailing at the finish against Redlands to claim the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III men's tournament.
The Stags (13-5-2), guided by original Galaxy captain Dan Calichman, outfired regular-season champion Redlands (18-3-1) in a penalty-kick shootout following a 1-1 draw on the road. It's the third straight year Claremont has beaten the Bulldogs in the SCIAC title game.
The teams traded goals 85 seconds apart midway through the second half, and Claremont stayed alive when goalkeeper Ricky Doar saved a penalty kick by Cody Carlson (Burbank/Burbank HS), after Daniel Price (Quartz Hill/Quartz Hill HS) was red-carded, with 2:40 remaining in overtime.
Matej Kustura scored for Redlands, which is No. 14 in the D3 rankings, in the 63rd minute. Eric Bean's header pulled the Stags even in the 64th.
Claremont had a 4-2 edge in the shootout, clinching when Jaison Kimura converted in the fourth couplet.
In other men's action:
- Cal Baptist (13-5-0) won a share of the Pacific West Conference title in its first season at the NCAA Division II level, clinching as Osvaldo Bastida (Anaheim/Katella HS) and Marc Hope scored second-half goals in a 3-1 victory over Dixie State (8-8-2). The Lancers, who went 10-2 to finish even with Hawaii Pacific in PacWest play, are still in their transition period and not eligible for the NCAA tournament, but they will play in the National Christian College Athletic Association tournament.
- Edgar Orozco (Santa Ana/Santa Ana HS, Corona HS and Golden West College) struck twice in the first 16 minutes and No. 13 Concordia (14-3-1) built a three-goal lead in the second half en route to a 4-2 romp over No. 10 Azusa Pacific (12-3-3) in a Golden State Athletic Conference tournament semifinal. UC Santa Barbara transfer Christian Ramirez (Garden Grove/La Quinta HS) had an assist hat trick for the Eagles, who will be home against Biola in the title game next Saturday.
- Cameroonian freshman Collins Egbe scored in the 84th minute and fifth-seeded Biola (12-5-2) topped No. 21 Fresno Pacific (12-6-0), the GSAC regular-season champ, in the tournament semifinals.
UCLA rallied from a second-half deficit, getting three goals from freshmen in just more than 12 minutes to overcome Loyola Marymount, 3-1, in a nonconference women's soccer showdown on the Lions' Sullivan Field.Samantha Mewis scored two goals and Kylie McCarthy also tallied for the fourth-ranked Bruins (7-0-1), who won their fourth in a row to close out their nonconference schedule.
LMU (6-2-1) withstood heavy pressure in the first half and asserted its attack after halftime, and Tawni Martino (Irvine/Beckman HS) provided a 59th-minute lead.
It lasted all of eight minutes. Mewis, a 5-foot-11 midfielder from Massachusetts who has starred for the U.S. under-17 and under-20 teams, headed home a corner kick by Chelsea Cline in the 67th minute, and McCarthy netted the go-ahead goal in the 76th. Mewis struck again three minutes later.
In other women´s action:
- Cal Baptist won its inaugural Pacific West Conference clash, routing visiting Academy of Art, 5-0, as Amanda Lammers (Menifee/Calvary Murrieta HS) scored twice and assisted another goal. The Lancers (5-1-0), who had a 35-3 shot advantage, has won four in a row, the last three by shutout. The Riverside school, in its second year of transition from NAIA, is not eligible for the NCAA Division II tournament.
- Lauren Skachenko (Chino Hills/Ayala HS and Cal Poly Pomona) scored two goals as Costa Mesa's Vanguard improved to 6-0-0 with a 3-0 romp over previously unbeaten Bellevue (Neb.) at Menlo's tournament. The Master's, from Santa Clarita, also won in Atherton, edging Holy Names, 3-2.
- Kristen Enriquez (Alta Loma/St. Lucy's Priory HS) scored twice and assisted five goals and Megan Gonzalez (Upland/Upland HS) netted a hat trick and added an assist as Fullerton's Hope International (3-3-0) destroyed future Golden State Athletic Conference foe Arizona Christian, 13-0.