Los Angeles Soccer: NCAA Division I Tournament

COLLEGE: Duke ends 49ers' dream year

November, 25, 2011

Long Beach State's unprecedented run through the NCAA Division I women's soccer tournament came to its conclusion against a faster, stronger, better team. That didn't make it any easier to accept.

The 49ers bowed in a quarterfinal Friday night to Duke, which claimed a College Cup berth with a 2-0 victory in Durham, N.C., capping its dominance with two fine second-half goals to reach the final four the first time since 1992.

Long Beach (18-6-1) stayed level until the 67th minute, but its failure to create much of an attack -- with just three shots (to Duke's 15) and none on frame -- meant it was going to take something very special to add to NCAA victories over Pepperdine, Miami and San Diego with an upset of the third-ranked Blue Devils (21-3-1).

“They were very athletic, more so than my kids,” 49ers coach Mauricio Ingrassia told ESPN Los Angeles afterward. “Normally, we get to the ball quicker or we hang in the air higher. They just had some beastly athletes -- and good soccer players. End of the day, we did very well to give ourselves a shot.”

Duke will meet Wake Forest (18-3-4), a 3-0 winner over Central Florida, in a semifinal next Friday in Kennesaw, Ga. A third Atlantic Coast Conference team, Florida State (18-6-1), routed ACC rival Virginia, 3-0, and will face top-ranked Stanford (23-0-1), which beat Oklahoma State, 2-1, in overtime.

Duke was explosive on the flanks, especially through Mollie Pathman on the left, and moved the ball impressively, but Long Beach stayed in the game by surviving Kelly Cobb's blast off the crossbar in the 22nd minute and through strong play by center backs Jordan Nelson (Garden Grove/Pacifica HS and Loyola Marymount) and Alex Balcer and goalkeeper Kaitlyn Gustaves (Long Beach/Wilson HS).

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COLLEGE: A heavy Southland slate

November, 14, 2011
It's MLS Cup week in Southern California, with the Galaxy taking on the Houston Dynamo on Sunday evening in Carson. It's hardly the only big game in town.

There are another 19 matches, in the NCAA, NAIA and NCCAA tournaments, slated for the L.A. area on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Redlands received word Monday that it will be home for the third round and quarterfinals in the NCAA Division III tournament -- the Bulldogs meet Calvin, from Grand Rapids, Mich., on Friday, and the winner faces Randolph or Texas-Tyler in Saturday's showdown for a final-four berth.

UCLA's and Cal State L.A.'s women are staging four-school quartets Friday and Sunday, and UCLA's, UC Irvine's and UC Santa Barbara's men will be home for their NCAA openers Sunday.

There also are three NAIA teams (Azusa Pacific's men and women and Concordia's women) at home for first-round games Saturday, and regional play in the NCCAA tournament -- for Christian schools -- set for Friday and Saturday.

Here's the full list of games this week:
  • MEN
NCCAA: Trinity Lutheran (12-4-1) at Cal Baptist (13-5-0), 1 p.m.
NCCAA: Hope International (7-7-2) at The Master's (10-5-3), 1 p.m.

D3: Randolph (19-5-0) vs. Texas-Tyler (17-2-2) at Redlands, 5 p.m.
D3: Calvin (17-5-1) at Redlands (20-3-1), 7:30 p.m.

Biola (13-5-2) at Hannibal-LaGrange (16-4-0), 11 a.m.
D2: Cal State L.A. (15-1-6) at Fort Lewis (20-1-0), noon
NCCAA: Cal Baptist/Trinity Lutheran vs. The Master's/Hope International at Cal Baptist, 1 p.m.
NAIA: Cal State San Marcos (10-6-1) at Azusa Pacific (12-3-3), 1:30 p.m.
D3: Redlands/Calvin vs. Randolph/Texas-Tyler at Redlands, 5 p.m.

St. Mary's (8-6-5) or Cal State Bakersfield (12-3-5) at UC Irvine (16-5-1), 5 p.m.
D1: Dartmouth (8-5-4) or Providence (10-7-1) at UC Santa Barbara (14-6-1), 5 p.m.
D1: Delaware (12-5-4) or Virginia (12-7-1) at UCLA (15-4-1), 7 p.m.
Chico State (12-6-4) at Cal State L.A. (13-4-3), noon
D2: Abilene Christian (19-1-1) vs. Dallas Baptist (16-5-1) at Cal State L.A., 2:30 p.m.
D1: Long Beach State (16-5-1) vs. Miami (10-7-1) at UCLA, 5 p.m.
D1: San Diego (12-7-1) at UCLA (15-1-3), 7:30 p.m.

Ottawa, Kan. (10-7-3) at Azusa Pacific (13-2-2), 11 a.m.
NAIA: Graceland (10-6-3) at Concordia (13-5-1), 1:30 p.m.

UCLA/San Diego vs. Long Beach State/Miami at UCLA, 2 p.m.
D2: Cal State L.A./Chico State vs. Abilene Christian/Dallas Baptist at Cal State L.A., 2 p.m.

COLLEGE: Three UCs among the seeds

November, 14, 2011

UC Irvine was seeded eighth, UCLA 13th and UC Santa Barbara 16th for the NCAA Division I men's soccer tournament, which means all received byes into the second round.

It also means all three will be home Sunday -- and, because the NCAA seeds its men's tournament (unlike its women's) nationally, all three could make it to the College Cup final four.

That would require an upset or two along the way, but the draw released Monday afternoon provided good news for the Southern California contingent.

Big West Conference champion UCI (16-5-1) will open against St. Mary's (8-6-5) or Cal State Bakersfield (12-3-5), which meet in a first-round Thursday in Bakersfield.

Pacific 12 Conference champ UCLA (15-4-1), underrated at No. 13, will face Virginia (12-7-1) or Delaware (12-5-4), and UCSB (14-6-1), runner-up to Irvine in the Big West regular-season and tournament, will face Providence (10-7-1) or Dartmouth (8-5-4).

UCI's and UC Santa Barbara's games will begin at 5 p.m. UCLA kicks off at 7.

Irvine returns to the NCAA tournament for the third time in four seasons -- and after a controversial snub last year. The Anteaters are on target for a third-round game against St. John's (14-6-2), likely at UCI, and a potential quarterfinal against No. 1 seed North Carolina (17-2-2).

UCI lost in the snow at St. John's in the third round in 2008

If UCLA reaches the third round, it probably would travel to No. 4 Boston College (14-6-0). Possible quarterfinal foes include No. 5 Maryland (13-3-3) and 12th-seeded Louisville (12-6-2), which reached last year's title game and beat UCLA, 2-0, in late August.

UC Santa Barbara lines up with second-seeded Creighton (18-2-0).

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COLLEGE: Link lifts L.B. past Waves

November, 13, 2011

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.

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COLLEGE: UC Irvine ousted on PKs

November, 12, 2011

Amanda Hardeman's goal in the 88th minute couldn't save UC Irvine. It just delayed the pain.

The Anteaters twice rallied from deficits Friday night but fell short in the tiebreaker and were eliminated by visiting San Diego in the first round of the NCAA Division I women's tournament.

The Toreros (12-7-1) outfired UCI, 5-3, on penalties to advance to next weekend's second-round clash against the winner of Saturday night's game between No. 2 UCLA and New Mexico.

Irvine (14-4-3) was 90 seconds from defeat when Hardeman (Laguna Niguel/Dana Hills HS and Santiago Canyon College) struck from Dana Sanderlin's cross to force a 20-minute sudden-death overtime.

Mariah Butera scored in the fourth minute to provide a lead for San Diego, the West Coast Conference co-champion, and Taylor Housley restored the advantage late in the first half after the 23nd-minute header by Zoya Farzaneh (Irvine/Irvine HS), from Cami Privett's pass, pulled the Anteaters even.

The Toreros were in charge of the tiebreaker from the start, taking a 2-0 lead after goalkeeper Courtney Parsons stopped Judy Christopher (Ontario/Upland HS) on Irvine's first attempt. The next three Anteaters -- Sanderlin (Upland/Upland HS), CoCo Goodson and Zuri Walker -- converted their attempts, but San Diego made all five of its shots. Stephanie Ochs clinched the victory.

In other women's action:
  • Azusa Pacific (13-2-2) won Golden State Athletic Conference tournament title, outfiring host Point Loma Nazarene, 4-2, on penalties following a scoreless tie in the final. APU, No. 5 in the NAIA rankings, converted on four of five attempts -- Natalie Sun's shot was decisive -- and goalkeeper Alexa Douglas made two stops to thwart the No. 4 Sea Lions (18-1-2).

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UCLA, UCI, Pepperdine at home

November, 7, 2011
The new format for the NCAA's Division I women's soccer tournament has its benefits and disadvantages, as the locals discovered when the 64-team pairings were unveiled Monday.

Three schools -- No. 4 UCLA, No. 8 Pepperdine and No. 24 UC Irvine -- were awarded first-round home games. But only one Southern California side can get to the quarterfinals.

The biggest matchup, from our perspective, pits Big West Conference tournament champion Long Beach State (15-5-1) at West Coast Conference co-champion Pepperdine (15-1-4), one of four national No. 3 seeds. Kickoff is Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Pacific 12 runner-up UCLA (15-1-3), which is seeded second in the same bracket, will be home Saturday night against New Mexico (12-4-4), and Big West regular-season titlist UC Irvine (14-4-2) is home against WCC co-champ San Diego (12-7-0) on Friday at 7 p.m.

The format this season calls for 32 opening-round home games, with the winners advancing into eight second- and third-round quartets. Previously, the tournament opened with 16 first- and second-round quartets.

The winners of the three SoCal matchups will join Miami (9-7-1) and Alabama (10-8-3) in a quartet Nov. 18 and 20, likely at UCLA if the Bruins win.

Receiving No. 1 seedings are top-ranked Stanford (19-0-1) and three Atlantic Coast Conference teams, none of them North Carolina -- it's Duke (17-3-1), Wake Forest (14-3-4) and Florida State (14-6-1). The Tar Heels (11-5-1), winners of 21 of 30 top-tier national titles, are a No. 3 seed.

There are two Pac-12 vs. WCC matchups: Cal at Santa Clara and Portland at Oregon State.

DIVISION III: Redlands' men and Cal Lutheran's women will stage first-round quartets in the D3 tournament. Redlands' features thee SoCal schools.

The Bulldogs (18-3-1), 15th in the D3 poll, take on No. 20 Pacific Lutheran (15-3-0) in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday, with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (14-5-1) taking on Chapman (11-4-3) in the second game. The winners meet Sunday.

Cal Lutheran (20-1-1) will open Saturday against UC Santa Cruz (7-6-2), which it's beaten twice this year. The winner faces the Puget Sound (14-3-2)-Concordia Morehead (12-3-5) victor Sunday.

The Division II men's and women's rankings will be out later Monday afternoon.


November, 11, 2010
UCLA survived its first test in the NCAA Division I women's tournament, but just barely.

The Bruins needed goal-line heroics from defender Lauren Barnes, two saves from goalkeeper Chante' Sandiford and a perfect spot kick from Elise Britt to beat BYU on penalties following a 0-0 draw Thursday at Drake Stadium.

"This is the character that I've been waiting to see in this team," UCLA coach Jill Ellis told the school's website. "I was blown away by the way we competed. It's just constant belief that it can go your way, and that's honestly what it comes down to."

Burgeoning U.S. women's national-teamer Sydney Leroux nearly tallied twice for UCLA, but she hit the post at the end of the first half and was stopped on a 108th-minute breakaway.

UCLA (12-7-2), which is seeking an eighth successive College Cup final four appearance, on Saturday will face Central Florida (15-4-3), a 2-1 winner over Fresno State in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader.

The Bruins could be without star star midfielders Jenna Richmond and Kylie Wright (Rancho Santa Margarita/Tesoro HS). Richmond, a U.S. under-20 national-teamer, was stretchered off in the 17th minute with a knee injury; Wright had to be carted off 11 minutes later with an ankle injury.

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