AZUSA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Azusa Pacific found the back of the net early and often, scoring 4 first-half goals en route to a 5-0 victory over San Diego Christian Saturday afternoon at the Cougar Soccer Complex.
Senior forward Steven Lenhart entered the game on a torrid scoring pace of a goal per game, and it took him just a shade over 3 and a half minutes to maintain his pace, heading in a Brandon Stirm corner kick to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead. Lenhart left the game shortly thereafter, but his replacement, junior midfielder Matt Kristoff, picked up where he left off.
In the 20th minute, a Kristoff header was partially deflected by Hawks goalkeeper Chris Kleppe, but not enough to knock it from its path into the goal. Junior defender Beau Hayden delivered the cross from the right side to the back post, where Kristoff was waiting.
Kristoff added another goal in the 36th minute, taking another cross from the right side at the top of the box from sophomore midfielder Dana Yoshizu. Kristoff turned with the ball and fired a shot from 15 yards out to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead.
Freshman midfielder Adam Holstein extended the lead to 4-0 with just over 3 minutes remaining in the first half. Junior defender Jared Karkas whipped in a corner kick from the left side to the near post, where sophomore defender Eric Winblad tapped it back to Holstein at the back post, who knocked it into the empty net.
The Cougars wrapped up the scoring in the 65th minute, when sophomore forward Mike Wilson was taken down in the box on a breakaway, and Stirm converted the penalty kick for his first score of the season.
Azusa Pacific finished with a 22-3 shots advantage, and the Cougars took 12 corner kicks in the game. Goalkeepers James Crawford and Tyler Stromberg each played a half without having to make a save, combining for the Cougars’ sixth straight shutout and its eighth in 9 games this season.
Twenty-five players saw game action for Azusa Pacific, and the Cougar bench accounted for 3 of the team’s 5 goals and 15 of the 22 shots.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 9-0 on the season, the longest season-opening win streak in program history, and the Cougars are now 2-0 in Golden State Athletic Conference play heading into an upcoming showdown with No. 9-ranked Westmont, which visits the Cougar Soccer Complex on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 3 p.m. San Diego Christian drops to 5-4 overall, 0-3 in GSAC play.