SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- Junior defender Beau Hayden’s first collegiate goal helped the NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Azusa Pacific avoid a road upset to The Master’s, providing the go-ahead score with less than 10 minutes to play in a 3-1 victory over the Mustangs Tuesday afternoon. The victory extends the Cougars’ season-opening winning streak to 12 games, the best start in program history.
After the first 60 minutes rendered a scoreless tie, The Master’s took a 1-0 lead with less than 30 minutes to play on Ewout Van Rhee’s 61st-minute goal. Senior forward Sven Simon gained possession in a goal mouth scramble, and his left-footed strike found the back of the net in the 71st minute to even the game at 1-1.
“We definitely had to grind this one out today,” said Cougar head coach Phil Wolf. “The guys willed themselves to this win.”
Over the next 10 minutes, Azusa Pacific fired off 3 more shots, 2 that missed wide to each side of the goal and another saved by Mustangs goalkeeper Kevin Lawson. With just under 10 minutes to play, Hayden settled a scramble for the ball off a Cougar corner kick at the top of the penalty box before curling in a strike to the upper left corner of the goal that gave Azusa Pacific a 2-1 lead.
Less than 5 minutes later, a Mustang defender was whistled for a handball in the penalty area, and Simon converted the ensuing penalty kick for the final 3-1 margin.
Simon has now scored or assisted goals in 10 of Azusa Pacific’s 12 games this season, and the 2-goal game was his second of the season. Hayden’s first collegiate score came in the 43rd game of his collegiate career, although the 5-foot-8 defender has 5 career assists to his credit.
Junior goalkeeper James Crawford made a pair of first-half saves to keep the game scoreless, and Van Rhee’s second-half score was only the fifth surrendered by Crawford in nearly 900 minutes of action this season. The Cougars registered a 20-8 shots advantage, including a 12-3 margin after halftime.
With the win, Azusa Pacific remains unbeaten at 5-0 in GSAC play, 12-0 overall, while The Master’s drops to 2-3 in conference play, 6-3-3 overall. The Cougars visit Biola Saturday, Oct. 13, for a 7 p.m. night game, just the second contest under lights for Azusa Pacific this season.