PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- The NAIA’s No. 16-ranked Azusa Pacific bounced back from its first defeat of the year with a 2-0 win over Rocky Mountain (Mont.) College Friday afternoon at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott (Ariz.) campus.
Junior defender Davis Delamarter scored just past the 15-minute mark for the game-winner, and senior midfielder Brett Taylor added an insurance goal in the 77th minute. The Cougars generated a lopsided 21-4 margin in total shots, including a 14-1 edge after halftime.
“The key to this game was the focus of the team,” Cougar head coach Dave Blomquist said. “Our focus could have been challenged by the long road trip, or coming off of our first loss, but today was a focused effort by the entire group.”
Delamarter’s goal, his first this season and just the second of his career, was set up by senior midfielder Ashkon Banihashemi’s 30-yard free kick, which hit another Cougar player situated between Rocky Mountain defenders. The rebound bounced to Delamarter’s feet, 25 yards away from goal, and he placed a screaming line drive just inside the right post, a strike that hovered just above the ground all the way into the net.
“Defenders aren’t going to score a lot of goals, because that’s not their primary job,” Blomquist said. “Davis serves a good ball, and he can strike a shot very well. To have that ability to put the ball in the back of the net is great to have from a defensive player, and it showed in that moment due to his awareness and good positioning.”
Taylor’s came on a well-timed run through the box that finished a cross from junior forward Nathan Nienhuis. Nienhuis beat his defender into the right side of the box, where his end-line cross found Taylor just outside the 6-yard goalkeeper box.
A pair of near-misses in the final 10 minutes threatened to further pad the lead, but 2 goals was plenty for sophomore goalkeeper Joe Geletko and the Azusa Pacific defense. Geletko made a pair of first-half saves and faced just 1 second-half shot, and his most difficult save came when he stopped and controlled a dipping free kick from outside the box in the first 15 minutes of action.
“We had a much greater focus defensively than our last game,” Blomquist said. “Rocky Mountain had some good players and they had some possession of the ball, but we were able to do a good job keeping them from getting any really great shots.”
With 10 minutes remaining, sophomore midfielder Trenton Titus hit the crossbar when he curled a free kick out of reach of the goalkeeper from 25 yards out, and freshman midfielder Kevin Yang had a late second-half strike off the near post.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 6-1 overall heading into tomorrow’s 8 p.m. matchup with Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) that marks the end of the Cougars’ non-conference schedule. The 10-game Golden State Athletic Conference slate begins on Saturday, Sept. 25, when Azusa Pacific hosts Vanguard at the Cougar Soccer Complex.