AZUSA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 9-ranked Azusa Pacific exploded for its highest single-game scoring total since 2006, posting an 8-0 victory over San Diego Christian Saturday afternoon to stay alive in the race for the Golden State Athletic Conference men’s soccer title. The Cougars, who are seeking their third straight conference crown, were not able to gain any ground on the GSAC’s 1-loss teams (The Master’s and Biola), who each eked out 1-0 road wins Saturday.
Seven different Cougars scored, with sophomore forward Sam Sprauer registering 2 goals, as Azusa Pacific registered 5-plus goals in a game for the fifth time this season. Senior midfielder Reid Baker and sophomore forward Cito Soriano each scored and assisted 2 goals, and sophomore forward Vinicius Dantas also picked up 2 assists. The Cougars finished with a 26-2 margin in total shots, putting 14 shots on goal.
Soriano helped get the offense rolling from the outset, setting up freshman midfielder Trenton Titus with a cross from the left touch line that Titus drilled to the left post from 14 yards out for the game’s first score just 1 minute and 26 seconds after the opening kickoff.
In the 24th minute, Baker pushed the lead to 2-0 with a far-post strike from 12 yards, and Soriano also hit from 12 yards out with assists from Dantas and Baker less than 3 minutes later. Sprauer scored his first goal of the game with less than 2 minutes to play in the first half, walking the ball into the goal for a 4-0 halftime lead after junior forward Alex Earl dribbled around the charging goalkeeper and crossed it to Sprauer in front of the goal.
Senior midfielder Dana Yoshizu and sophomore forward Nathan Nienhuis scored goals 1 minute and 45 seconds apart to push the lead to 6-0, and Sprauer’s unassisted near-post strike into the upper left corner pushed the lead to 7-0 in the 69th minute. Earl rounded out the scoring with a spectacular diving header to finish a Dantas cross from the right in the 77th minute.
All 3 Cougar goalkeepers shared time in the goal to combine for Azusa Pacific’s seventh shutout of the season. Senior goalkeeper Tyler Stromberg played the entire first half and faced San Diego Christian’s only 2 shots of the game, neither of which were on goal. Freshman Joe Geletko and sophomore Jeff Hoover split the second-half goaltending duties.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 14-2 overall, 7-2 in GSAC play, while San Diego Christian drops to 3-12 overall, 0-8 GSAC. The Cougars wrap up the regular season on Wednesday (Oct. 28), with a visit to Fresno Pacific. Azusa Pacific gets its conference bye next Saturday (Oct. 31), while the other 10 GSAC teams wrap up the regular season.