EL CAJON, Calif. -- Junior Vinicius Dantas’ GSAC-leading 13th goal of the season with less than 9 minutes left in the game lifted the NAIA’s No. 20-ranked Azusa Pacific to a 2-1 Golden State Athletic Conference victory over San Diego Christian College Saturday afternoon.
Dantas’ heroics allowed Azusa Pacific avert another unsuspecting overtime game and capped the Cougars’ comeback from an early and surprising 1-0 deficit.
Despite dominating the game at the offensive end, it was the Cougars who found themselves down just 13 minutes in to the contest when San Diego Christian’s Frank Zimmerman scored on a diving header to register the Hawks’ first goal against an Azusa Pacific squad since 2002 (the Cougars had out-scored SDCC 40-0 in the 8 games leading into today’s meeting).
Azusa Pacific, however, was relentless in its attack and even if took the help of the official’s whistle, the Cougars finally broke through when Oktay Bulut converted a penalty kick in the 26th minute for his sixth goal of the year, knotting the game at 1-1 for halftime.
The Cougars out-shot San Diego Christian, 23-9, which included a 14-4 clip on goal. In addition, they had 10 corner-kick opportunities to the Hawks’ 1, but it wasn’t until Ashkon Banihashemi slipped a pass to Dantas in the 82nd minute did the Cougar finally find the back of the net.
Azusa Pacific nearly found itself in a catch-up mode again when Hawk Jordan Abad had a shot rifle off the post midway through the second half. It was the only good chance San Diego Christian could muster while at the other end fo the field Hawk goalie Bojan Maric was busy making a hefty saves.
Joe Geletko and Chip Cox split time in goal for the Cougars, with Cox blanking SDCC with 2 saves in the second half.
Azusa Pacific has never lost to San Diego Christian in 14 meetings, and with today’s result has now out-scored the Hawks, 65-4, since the inaugural meeting in 1990.
With the victory, Azusa Pacific improves to 13-3-1 overall, 6-2-1 in the GSAC. San Diego Christian falls to 1-12-1 overall, 0-8 in the GSAC.