MOBILE, Ala. -- The NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Azusa Pacific posted a 6-0 win Saturday over the tournament host of the University of Mobile (Ala.) Kick-Off Classic for its sixth straight win to open the season. Six different Cougars scored goals in – you guessed it – the sixth all-time meeting between a pair of NAIA men’s soccer powers.
Midfielders Reid Baker and Brett Taylor scored in the first half to give Azusa Pacific a 2-0 halftime lead, and the Cougars turned it into a 3-0 game in the first 15 minutes of the second half on sophomore forward Cito Soriano’s 58th-minute scoring strike, his fourth goal of the season.
“I thought today we really started clicking offensively, getting on the same page with each other on our attack,” Cougar head coach Dave Blomquist said. “We made the right decisions in the final third, and we took the chances when they came. Obviously we had a lot of scoring balance, and we feel like one of the strengths of our team is all the weapons we have throughout the side. We have a lot of guys who can put the ball in the back of the net.”
The final 3 scores came in the final 15 minutes, starting with senior midfielder Mike Wilson’s first goal of the season in the 77th minute. Freshman midfielder Michael Sahagian knocked in his own rebound for his first collegiate goal in the 87th minute, and just a minute and 20 seconds later, sophomore forward Sam Sprauer provided the final margin with his first goal as a Cougar.
Senior goalkeeper Tyler Stromberg recorded 5 saves to preserve the shutout, his second of the year. Sprauer, Baker and sophomore defender Davis Delamarter each tallied an assist as Azusa Pacific posted a 15-12 shots advantage.
“I was pleased with how solid we were from front to back,” Blomquist said. “Defensively, our back 4 was really sharp tonight – they stayed organized and were great in the air, and Tyler really commanded the defense. (Outside backs) Davis (Delamarter) and Alejandro (Ramos) had their best games of the season, as well. Defense was key in the effort in shutting things down for Mobile, and the midfield also did their job very well.”
The contest was the sixth all-time between Azusa Pacific, the 2007 NAIA men’s soccer champion, and 2002 NAIA champion Mobile (Ala.), and it was the first meeting between the programs since 2006, when the Cougars blanked the host Rams, 2-0.
“Having 2 wins on the road against quality teams is a great testament to the guys and the hard work they put into training and the focus they had on the road,” Blomquist said.
With the victory, Azusa Pacific improves to 6-0 on the season heading into a final non-conference tuneup with Cal State San Marcos at home on Wednesday, Sept. 23, before the Sept. 26 Golden State Athletic Conference opener at Vanguard.