SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 13-ranked Azusa Pacific exploded for 6 goals and came within 8 minutes of a shutout in a 6-1 victory over 4-time defending California Pacific Athletic Conference champion Holy Names University Friday afternoon at the Westmont Heritage Club Classic.
Friday’s contest was the first official men’s soccer contest at Westmont’s brand-new Thorrington Field, and freshman midfielder Oktay Bulut’s goal just over 8 minutes in was the first official goal registered at the facility – Westmont’s women’s soccer team opened the facility August 24 with a scoreless draw. Bulut’s run through the Holy Names defense was rewarded by junior forward Vinicius Dantas, who split a pair of defenders to put the ball at Bulut’s feet for the finish inside the penalty box.
“That goal showed a great understanding between those 2,” Cougar head coach Dave Blomquist said. “The first few games this year we’ve worked very hard to get things to be on the same page in the attack, and I felt like we did that today.”
With less than 6 minutes to play in the opening half, Dantas doubled the Cougars’ lead heading into halftime with an unassisted strike which he tucked into the bottom of the crossbar.
Sophomore midfielder Trenton Titus pushed the lead to 3-0 less than 4 minutes into the second half, scoring from 20 yards out into the bottom right corner, and senior midfielder Brett Taylor scored off a rebound of his own initial shot off the keeper to give Azusa Pacific a 4-0 lead in the 54th minute. Less than 7 minutes later, Dantas made it a 5-0 margin when he scored his second goal with a chip over Holy Names goalkeeper Lars Johansen just over 15 minutes.
“We need to have a balanced scoring attack to be successful,” Blomquist said. “We can’t rely on the strikers to do all our goal scoring. We have a number of midfielders that can score, as shown now in our first 3 games, and especially today. Our midfielders have the ability to score, and our strikers have been able to set them up and get assists. When you have that, you have an attack that comes from all angles.”
Junior defender Henry Ortlip scored his first goal as a Cougar, doing so in just his fifth career game appearance. In the 76th minute, barely 10 minutes after entering the game as a substitute, Ortlip took advantage of a poor clearance by the Holy Names defense. He one-timed the ball at his feet and caught Johansen out of the goal area with a 25-yard strike to the far post to push the lead to 6-0.
Rasmus Larson converted a penalty kick for Holy Names with less than 8 minutes to play, ruining Azusa Pacific’s shutout bid.
Azusa Pacific puts its perfect 3-0 start on the line in the second day of Heritage Club Classic action, taking on NCAA Division III University of La Verne at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 4. La Verne tied Westmont, 1-1, in the Warriors’ first men’s soccer contest at Thorrington Field Friday afternoon.
Holy Names, which lost a pair of exhibition contests prior to Friday’s official season opener, drops to 0-1 heading into tomorrow’s matchup with host Westmont.