SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 20-ranked Azusa Pacific gave up a goal to a short-handed Westmont squad in the final minute of regulation, and the Cougars had to settle for a 2-2 draw when the equalizer never came in 20 minutes of thunderstorm-delayed overtime in Santa Barbara Tuesday afternoon.
Westmont forward Doug Harrell picked up 2 yellow cards in a span of 93 seconds, earning his second caution and the automatic ejection in the 87th minute that left the Warriors needing to score while playing a man down. A giveaway of possession in the back by Azusa Pacific turned into a breakaway chance for Westmont’s Emmanuel Akyen, who took the ball directly into the box and fired to the far post from 12 yards out for the dramatic equalizer.
Akyen, who missed a penalty kick that could have tied the game with less than 9 minutes remaining, became the hero with his last-minute heroics.
Just minutes into the first overtime, a heavy rain shower brought lightning and thunder into the area, temporarily halting the game until the storm passed through. When play resumed, the Cougars were able to put 4 shots at the Westmont goal over a pair of 10-minute sudden-death overtime periods, but the first 2 attempts missed high and the other 2 were saved by Warrior goalkeeper Matthew McNab. Westmont did not take any shots in either overtime period.
Senior forward Alex Earl got the scoring started from point-blank range when he knocked in a cross from the left side from junior forward Vinicius Dantas in the 14th minute. Less than 2 minutes later, Westmont answered with a Ben Gordon strike from inside the box, and the game remained tied at 1-1 through halftime.
In the second half, Dantas buried a 20-yard strike from just outside the top right corner of the box, giving the Cougars another lead at 2-1 with just over 10 minutes remaining. Shortly after, the Warriors put together a flurry of activity in the Cougar penalty box, putting together 4 shots in a span of 35 seconds that included Akyen’s failed 82nd-minute penalty kick.
The Warriors were then issued 3 cautions in just over a minute and a half, with Harrell earning 2 for the automatic red card with his second yellow. The Cougars mostly controlled play the rest of the way, with the exception of the late giveaway that led to Akyen’s equalizer.
The tie dropped the Cougars farther behind GSAC leader California Baptist, which itself needed overtime for a 2-1 road win at Hope International. Azusa Pacific is now 12-3-1 overall and 5-2-1 in GSAC play, while California Baptist improves to 7-1 in GSAC play. Westmont remained in seventh place in the GSAC standings with a 2-3-2 conference mark, and the Warriors are now 7-3-4 overall.
The Cougars visit San Diego Christian on Saturday, Oct. 23, before wrapping up the regular season at home against Fresno Pacific at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 27.