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Women's Soccer

Long Beach State, UC Irvine Earn Selections To 2011 NCAA Championship

Files associated with this release:
2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket
Women's Soccer Weekly Release No. 13

11/7/2011

For the second year in a row, Long Beach State and UC Irvine are representing the Big West in the NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship as the NCAA selection committee unveiled the 64-team field on Monday.

This is the third time in the last four seasons that the Big West is sending two teams to postseason play.  It is also the fourth time since 2005 that the conference has had multiple NCAA Tournament representatives.

First round action begins this weekend and features a couple of familiar foes from the West Coast Conference.  WCC regular season co-champion, NCAA automatic qualifier and No. 3 regional seed Pepperdine (15-1-4) hosts Long Beach State (15-5-1, 6-2-0 Big West) on Saturday, November 12 at 1:30 p.m. (PST) at Tari Frahm Rokus Field.  The winner takes on either Miami (FL) or Alabama in second round action on Friday, November 18.

UC Irvine (14-4-2, 6-1-1 Big West) welcomes at-large representative and WCC co-champion San Diego (12-7-0) to Anteater Stadium for a 7:00 p.m. (PST) first round match on Friday, November 11.  The winner advances to the second round to face either regional No. 2 seed UCLA or New Mexico on Friday, November 18.  UCI won a high scoring, tightly contested 3-2 affair at San Diego on Sept. 25.

This is Long Beach State's third NCAA Tournament appearance, all in the last four seasons.  The 49ers became the Big West automatic qualifier to the NCAA's by virtue of winning the conference tournament as they defeated Cal State Northridge at home and top-seeded UC Irvine on the road in succession for the second straight season.  Long Beach State secured back-to-back Big West Tournament titles with Sunday's 1-0 win at UCI, winning by an identical score in 2010.

LBSU, which enters the Pepperdine match with a school record 15 wins in tow, is 0-2 all-time in the NCAA Tournament with both losses coming in close 1-0 battles to WCC foes.  The 49ers lost to San Diego in 2008 and Santa Clara last season.

UC Irvine is making its second consecutive trip to the postseason after a successful run as a host in its 2010 inaugural foray.  The Anteaters knocked off Arizona State (2-1) and Wake Forest (2-0) to reach the round of 16, but fell to Washington 1-0 in double overtime.  UCI earned an NCAA Tournament at-large bid once again after coming up short in the Big West Tournament, but won the league's regular season championship for the second straight season.

The Anteaters have been ranked in at least one of the three national polls all season long, rising as high as No. 11 on Sept. 5.  UCI is ranked No. 21 in this week's Soccer America poll.  The 49ers reentered the national rankings this week at No. 24 in Soccer America.  This is the fourth time this season that LBSU has been listed among the top 25.

NOTEWORTHY

KEEP AN EYE ON

Kaitlyn Gustaves, Long Beach State
The senior goalkeeper has provided a steady presence as an anchor to the Long Beach State defense.  She has posted an impressive 0.85 goals against average with 63 saves and nine shutouts while playing all 1,915 minutes this season.  In the Big West record book, she ranks fourth in a single season for minutes played and is tied for eighth in shutouts.  Gustaves picked up her eighth and ninth clean sheets in last week’s Big West Tournament against Cal State Northridge and then-No. 16 UC Irvine.  She has notched shutouts in four of the last five matches.  In combining with a stingy 49er backline, Gustaves has helped LBSU lead the Big West in goals against average and fewest goals allowed (18).

Tourney Title Redux For Long Beach State
Long Beach State invaded enemy territory for the second straight year and came away with its second straight Big West Tournament title.  After defeating third-seeded Cal State Northridge 2-0 at home in a semifinal matchup, the 49ers traveled to No. 1 seed UC Irvine for the championship game.  And in a repeat of 2010, LBSU defeated UCI 1-0 and celebrated on the home field of its rival.  In the 13th minute, Jazz Strozier knocked home a ball in front of the Eater net as consecutive headers by tournament Most Valuable Player Alex Balcer and Shawna Gordon set up the opportunity.  A rugged 49er defense shut down the Anteater offense, which suffered only its second shutout of the year, the other coming against top-ranked Stanford.

Can’t Have Just One
Long Beach State continued a Big West trend of repeating as tournament champion.  Since reinstating the tournament in 2003, the four victorious schools have hoisted the crown in consecutive years.  Cal Poly (2003, 2004), Cal State Fullerton (2005, 2006, 2007), UC Santa Barbara (2008, 2009) and now Long Beach State won at least two tournament championships in a row.

Long Beach State Sets School Record For Wins
Long Beach State’s two victories in the Big West Tournament improved its overall record to 15-5-1.  The 15 wins represent a school record, eclipsing the previous mark of 14 that the 2006, 2008 and 2010 clubs initially established.  In addition, the 49ers are tied for fourth in Big West history for most wins in a single season.

MOST OVERALL WINS IN A SEASON
School Year Wins Record
UC Irvine 2010 19 19-3-2
Cal State Fullerton 2005 19 19-4-0
Cal Poly 2003 18 18-2-2
Long Beach State 2011 15 15-5-1
Pacific 1998 15 15-5-3
Cal Poly 1997 15 15-6-0
UC Irvine 1997 15 15-7-0

UC Irvine Repeats As Regular Season Champion
Perfection did not occur in 2011, but the lack of it did not prevent UC Irvine from winning its second straight Big West regular season championship.  After becoming the first team in Big West women’s soccer history to finish unbeaten and untied (8-0-0) in 2010, the Anteaters and head coach Scott Juniper entered the season as a prime target.  And they struggled to begin league play after tying UC Davis and losing to Pacific on the opening weekend.  However, UCI recovered to win its next six league games and dominated in the process, outscoring the opposition 15-1 and finishing with a league-best 19 points and 6-1-1 record.  UCI is the first Big West program to capture back-to-back regular season conference titles since Long Beach State won three straight (two shared) from 2006-08.

Link’s Epic Season
Long Beach State junior Nadia Link is having one of the top seasons in Big West history.  The conference leader in goals (15), assists (10), points (40) and game-winning goals (6) ranks in the Big West single-season top 10 in all four categories.  She is tied for seventh all-time in both goals and assists.  Her 40 points are the fifth-most in conference annals, and is tied for fourth in game-winning goals.

Consistent Success
Over the last five seasons, UC Irvine and Long Beach State have experienced the most success with 64 and 61 victories, respectively.