AZUSA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Azusa Pacific edged Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) Saturday afternoon with a slim 1-0 double-overtime victory. Senior midfielder Kolt Callaway scored the golden goal after getting ahold of a loose ball inside the Trojans penalty area. Surrounded by Hannibal-LaGrange defenders, Callaway’s initial touch somehow found a way into space in the penalty box with only Trojan goalkeeper Jeff Jelinek to beat. Callaway placed the ball to the near post past Jelinek for the game-winner.
"I kind of had a bad touch and it skipped through the defender’s legs," said Callaway of his third shot of the game. "There was an opening and i just tried to place it this time. I hadn't really been doing that during the game – I was too busy hitting balls hard that I wasn't putting them in good spots."
Callaway's bad touch-turned-golden opportunity was symbolic of an Azusa Pacific performance that, for the majority of the day, wasn't pretty, but enough to get the job done.
"There wasn't a ton of quality in the final third today, whether it was in shooting or crossing or passing," Azusa Pacific head coach Phil Wolf said. "It just wasn't what it should be, but you have those days and you have to live with them. But we kept a clean sheet and when you do that you give yourself a chance to win."
The Cougars got off to a slow start, forced to defend a fast and troublesome Trojan attack throughout the first half. With the ball resting mostly in Cougar territory, Azusa Pacific didn't get a shot off for the first 10 minutes of the game. Senior forwards Sven Simon and Steven Lenhart were held scoreless, the first game this season in which the tandem has been held scoreless. Lenhart had 8 shots on goal, including 6 headers. However, Jelinek was able to catch at least a piece of nearly every one before sending it glancing over or just by the goal.
"I was really frustrated today," Lenhart said. "I was getting good opportunities, I just couldn't put them away. I wasn't scoring and I should be because I am a forward. Instead I just tried to make other guys passionate and hoped they would be able to pick up the slack."
The second half was a different story as the Cougars turned the tables on Hannibal-LaGrange. After a first half in which Hannibal-LaGrange out-shot the Cougars by a 7-3 margin, the Trojans managed just 1 second-half shot while Azusa Pacific fired off 8 shots. Junior goalkeeper James Crawford made 4 first-half saves that helped to keep the Cougars’ final non-conference game scoreless.
"I was leery of this game because you have a team like Hannibal-LaGrange who comes in with nothing to lose, taking on a California team, loving the weather and the surroundings," Wolf said. "To be honest, after coming off last week’s win at Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), we did not have a good week of training. I don't think the guys' mentality was all that great, but we can't linger on that. We have to think about conference now. It's like a new season again and it’s the most challenging part of the season."
The first GSAC challenge for the Cougars is just around the corner – a Tuesday, September 25 visit to the NAIA’s No. 6-ranked Fresno Pacific. After the trip to Fresno, Azusa Pacific returns home to face San Diego Christian on Saturday, Sept. 29, in a 1 p.m. contest at the Cougar Soccer Complex.