COLUMBIA, Ky. -- Although the NAIA’s No. 4-ranked Azusa Pacific started the 2007 campaign with 19 goals in its first 4 games, the high-powered offense lacked a certain element.
Senior forward Sven Simon, who led the 2006 Cougars in scoring with 13 goals, had not yet joined the scoring party, save for a pair of penalty kick attempts, although a third PK was stopped in a 4-2 victory over Cal State San Marcos.
A week later and 2 time zones outside of California, Simon snapped out of his slump in a 4-0 victory over Cumberlands (Ky.) Friday afternoon.
“Sven is an amazing player if he does the stuff that he’s really gifted to do,” said Cougar head coach Phil Wolf. “If he tries to do other things, then it goes a little harder for him. Today, he played fantastic. The first 4 games he didn’t quite get it right, but with this one, he’s back.”
The 6-foot-1 senior still had his penalty kick goal, scoring from the spot just over 4 minutes into the second half after a scoreless first half. An Azusa Pacific free kick from the left side proved dangerous enough for a Cumberlands defender to drag down 1 of several Cougar targets in front of the goal, and a penalty kick was awarded. Simon’s shot to the left met no resistance, and the Cougars were on the board with a 1-0 lead.
“To only score 2 goals on PKs out of 19 for the team – as a forward, that’s not what you’re aiming for,” said Simon. “It’s kind of tough to shoot those PKs, because I’ve missed one and those are the only goals I’ve been scoring. There is a lot of pressure, so I was pretty nervous out there.”
Just 2 minutes later, Simon nearly had himself his second goal, putting away Jared Karkas’ cross from the left on a breakaway. However, Simon was whistled offside on the play and would have to wait another 10 minutes to bag another goal.
As the Cougars continued to advance forward, grinding down the Cumberlands defense, sophomore midfielder Dana Yoshizu touched the ball over to Simon along the left side, who found the lower left corner of the net to give Azusa Pacific a 2-0 lead in the 61st minute.
“I don’t really judge myself on the goals I score,” said Simon. “It’s more like how many chances we as a team create. If I create chances and I just don’t score, that’s fine, but if I’m not creating any chances, I wouldn’t be happy with myself.”
The Cougars, who had equal first-half chances with Cumberlands at 4 shots apiece, fired 10 second-half opportunities at goal to the Patriots’ 1, which was stopped by Azusa Pacific goalkeeper James Crawford, who earned his second shutout of the season.
“Their formation gave us a really difficult time,” said Wolf. “It took us the whole first half to get organized, but then our fitness won out in the second half. Unfortunately we had to run a lot in that first half because we were pinned in our end.”
In the 77th minute, freshman Jordan Chrzan put away a shot from the right side for his second goal of the season, giving the Cougars a 3-0 lead, and Mike Wilson wrapped up the scoring with just under 6 minutes to play, following up a Chrzan header stopped by Cumberlands goalkeeper Carlos Orozco with a shot just over Orozco’s outstretched hands.
“To be able to go and change guys who go out and score goals, it’s just great to have that kind of depth,” said Wolf. “The whole day we looked dangerous, and we were always a threat to score. The goals were inevitable.”
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 5-0 on the season, while Cumberlands drops to 3-2. The Cougars are back in action Saturday at 2 p.m., when they take on the NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Lindsey Wilson (Ky.).