LONG BEACH - There was much for the Long Beach State women's soccer team to celebrate Sunday afternoon at George Allen Field - Senior Day, plenty of scoring and a fourth straight berth in the Big West Conference Tournament.
Behind three goals from senior star Hayley Bolt, the 49ers dispensed with Cal State Northridge in rather easy fashion, winning their regular-season home finale, 5-0, to clinch one of the four spots in the conference's postseason tournament.
Nobody, especially the senior class which has helped transform LBSU from a mediocre program to one of the nation's best, could have asked for a more perfect day.
"It's rare that it works out that way," Coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. "It was good for the seniors. They have worked hard to put the program where it is at today."
The 49ers (11-4-3, 5-0-1), the two-time defending BWC champions who were ranked No. 11 in the West Region by Soccer Buzz and hold the No. 27 spot in the RPI rankings, locked up a berth in the conference tournament with the victory in which they outshot CSUN (7-8-2, 2-3-1) , 25-10, and had an 8-0 edge in corner kicks.
Now the focus will shift to their final two regular-season games - at UC Santa Barbara on Friday and at Cal Poly on Sunday - a first-place finish and the right to host a BWC Tournament semifinal game Nov. 6 and, possibly, the title game Nov. 9.
The winner of the conference tournament secures a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
"I feel like we will have a lot more games on this field (this year)," Bolt said.
The day began with LBSU honoring its 11-member senior class - Breanna Truelove, Liz Ramos, Sara Baca, Sahar Haghdan, Kim Silos, Mariko Strickland, Tiffany Vaught, Julie Megorden, Dana Farquhar, Cat Gray and Bolt.
It didn't take long for Bolt to show why she has become the face of LBSU soccer.
Just two minutes in, Bolt was on the receiving end of a corner kick from Silos, and her header found a way past CSUN goalie Leah Elliott.
Four minutes later, Bolt took a pass from Nicole Hubbard in the goalie box and chipped it into a top corner, giving the 49ers a quick 2-0 lead.
The goals were Bolt's first since she was moved from her usual spot at attacking midfield to a forward position, due to injuries, a couple weeks ago.
"We talked about how close she has been (to scoring). I felt at any time she was ready to break out, and today was her day," Ingrassia said. "It was great for her to get some confidence in playing a new role."
Lindsay Bullock's header off a corner kick from Shawna Gordon, who has taken Bolt's spot in the midfield, in the 34th minute gave LBSU a 3-0 lead at halftime.
Bolt, who had two very good chances to record her first hat trick in the opening half - a header sailing just over the net in the 16th and a volley shot saved by a diving Elliott in the 33rd - picked up her third goal two minutes into the second half on a header off a cross by Farquhar that made it 4-0.
"I feel like I've had so many opportunities leading up to the game," said Bolt, who is tied with Bullock for the team lead in goals with 10. "I talked to Mauricio before the game and he told me I was on the verge. ... When it rains, it pours."