AZUSA, Calif. -- A shutout is one thing, but no official term exists for the type of performance the NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Azusa Pacific displayed in a 2-0 victory over Corban (Ore.) in the final game of the Cougar Classic Saturday afternoon at the Cougar Soccer Complex.
The Cougars held Corban without a shot for the full 90 minutes while taking 22 of its own, including 13 in the first half. Several regular starters sat out the opening half to allow several reserves who did not play in Friday’s victory over Cal State San Marcos the opportunity to play some quality minutes. Without a goal to show for its effort in the opening period, Azusa Pacific sent senior forwards Steven Lenhart and Sven Simon out to start the second half.
Two minutes later, Lenhart was in the books for his fifth goal in the past 2 days, as his strike from the right side of the box bounced into the goal after a deflection by Corban goalkeeper Aaron Franklin.
However, just 2 and a half minutes later, junior defender Mike Pertz was issued a red card for his involvement in a scuffle in front of the Azusa Pacific goal while awaiting a Corban throw-in, and the Cougars were left a man short for the final 40 minutes of regulation.
Lenhart and Simon, who were each issued first-half yellow cards for the second time in 3 games in yesterday’s game against Cal State San Marcos, took advantage of the first half of rest to make up for the loss of a player due to the ejection. The Cougars still managed 9 second-half shots, including Simon’s successful penalty kick in the 73rd minute.
“Behavior was again deplorable on our part,” said Cougar head coach Phil Wolf. “We passed the ball and we moved the ball well, but we do that every game. There wasn’t a ton of quality on our services or on our finishing, but obviously it got better in the second half.”
Junior defender Jared Karkas anchored the Azusa Pacific back line for the full 90 minutes, the only defensive player to play the full game, and sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Stromberg earned the shutout despite not having to face a shot.
“We just had to communicate the whole game and just try to stay together as much as possible,” said Karkas, who was named last week’s Golden State Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week after scoring a goal and assisting 5 others in the Cougars’ first 2 games of the season. “The only thing that matters to me is the end result. If we get the ‘W’, I don’t care what I’ve done individually, as long as I’ve given it my all.”
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 4-0 on the season, while Corban drops to 2-2. The Cougars visit Columbia, Ky. next weekend to take on Cumberlands (Ky.) and Lindsey Wilson in a pair of non-conference games.
In the first game of Saturday’s Cougar Classic action, a 53rd-minute goal from Sammy Montemer lifted Westmont to a 1-0 victory over Cal State San Marcos, giving both Westmont and Azusa Pacific a pair of wins at both this weekend’s Cougar Classic, as well as Westmont’s Heritage Club Classic played a week ago in Santa Barbara.