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September 5, 2008
Joe Reinsch
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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Scoring remained at a premium for the NAIA’s top-ranked Azusa Pacific, which had to settle for a 1-1 draw with No. 24-ranked Concordia (Ore.) despite a commanding 15-8 shots advantage Friday afternoon at the Far West Challenge at the Nike World Campus.

Junior midfielder Dana Yoshizu broke the scoreless tie less than 6 minutes into the second half, but the lead lasted less than 18 minutes. Concordia came up with the equalizer in the 68th minute when Bryan Iotte got free on a breakaway and crossed the ball across the face of the goal to Jon Larsen, who buried it low from 10 yards out to tie the game at 1-1.

After a scoreless opening half in which it held a slim 4-3 lead in shots taken, Azusa Pacific came out with a sharper second-half attack. Thirty seconds into the period, the Cougars were whistled offside on an overzealous attack, but freshman midfielder Davis Delamarter wound up for a strike that glanced off a Concordia defender, resulting in a corner kick just 5 minutes into the second half.

Although the set piece didn’t directly result in a score, the Cougars kept the ball in dangerous territory, and senior Jared Karkas found some daylight in the Concordia back line. From just outside the left corner of the box, Karkas curled the ball towards the far post, where his left-footed strike tailed away from Cavaliers goalkeeper Garrett Staples. When the ball skimmed just over the head of a teammate, Yoshizu’s run along the back post paid off with a touch to the right from 12 yards out for the go-ahead goal.

Sophomore Brett Taylor had 2 shots stopped by Staples within a 60-second span, and Concordia seemed content to focus its efforts on slowing Azusa Pacific’s attack via an offside trap that caught the Cougars offside 9 times in the match. After the equalizer, Concordia managed just 1 shot over the final 42 minutes of the match.

Staples finished with 5 saves for Concordia, while senior James Crawford registered 3 saves for the Cougars, including a point-blank stop of a 55th-minute Larsen header.

Azusa Pacific is 1-0-2 heading into Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. clash with No. 5-ranked Simon Fraser (B.C.), the Cougars’ third Top 25-ranked opponent in its first 4 contests of the 2008 campaign. The programs met in the semifinals of last year’s NAIA Championship, with eventual national champion Azusa Pacific earning the 1-0 result to advance to the final.