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Cougars Off The Mark

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September 10, 2008
Joe Reinsch
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SAN MARCOS, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific suffered its second straight shutout with Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Cal State San Marcos Wednesday afternoon.

The Cougars had 9 shots in the game, although none were on goal, and 3 of Azusa Pacific’s 9 corner kicks came in the closing minutes as part of an increasingly intense offensive push for the equalizer. In the end, however, the Cougars couldn’t get a single shot that required a stop by Cal State San Marcos goalkeeper Tashi Nakanishi. When the programs met for the first time last season, Nakanishi made 6 saves, although he surrendered 4 goals to eventual NAIA All-American first team and MLS draft pick Steven Lenhart in Azusa Pacific’s 4-2 win.

Wednesday afternoon, however, was a different story. Azusa Pacific actually had the shots advantage in a scoreless first half, 5-4, but in the 65th minute, Cal State San Marcos forward Brandon Zuniga drew a foul in the box for a penalty kick. Senior goalkeeper James Crawford stopped Christian Soares’ penalty kick, preserving the scoreless tie. Just minutes later, Michael Nuovo drilled a 25-yard left-footed strike that found the back of the net for a 1-0 Cal State San Marcos lead.

No Azusa Pacific player was able to get more than 2 shots off, with seniors Ryan Cheek and Jared Karkas leading the attack with 2 shots each. Crawford finished with 4 saves.

The defeat drops Azusa Pacific to 1-2-2, the first losing record for the Cougars since 2003, when they dropped 2 of 3 to start the season. The last time Azusa Pacific was shut out in back-to-back games was in 2006. The Cougars responded then with a 12-game unbeaten streak that landed them in the program’s first-ever NAIA title game.