SANTA BARBARA, Calif.-- The Azusa Pacific men’s soccer team made it three in a row with a 3-1 win over Rocky Mountain College (Mont.) in the team’s second match of the Heritage Club Classic hosted by Westmont.
The Cougars got two goals from sophomore striker Oktay Bulut and one from freshman forward Carlos Garcia-Partida to overcome three yellow cards and 14 fouls.
In the two programs first ever meeting the Cougars struck first, grabbing the lead at the 21-minute mark.
Michael Sahagian crossed a corner to the middle, where Lucas Young headed it to Nathan Nienhuis who then headed it to Bulut who followed suit with a header of his own for the goal.
“It was a good job by Lucas and Nate,” said Head Coach David Blomquist. “Oktay was in the right place [at the right time].”
The team’s second goal came at 23:23 by No. 23 Carlos Garcia-Partida. On a free kick from 20 yards out wide of the goal, the freshman bent it in around the wall to the upper near corner for his third score in the last three matches.
Joe Geletko held the Bears scoreless in the half, while RMC got off just two shots to the Cougars’ seven.
In the second the Bears battled back after Garret Mehrguth was fwhistled for a foul inside the box, giving RMC a penalty kick in the 50th minute. Nick Heffernan then shot it past Geletko, ending the junior keeper’s bid for a second consecutive shutout.
Still, Geletko hasn’t given up a goal in the run-of-play since the team’s opening loss to Grand Canyon (Ariz.).
Three minutes later Garcia-Partida attempted to take back a two-goal lead for the Cougars, but was blocked. In the 64th minute Bulut made up for his yellow earlier in the half, knocking in a penalty kick for his second score of the match, and third in the last two contests.
Azusa Pacific held on to win 3-1 for the Cougars’ third straight victory, with another solid defensive effort.
“Overall it was a solid defensive effort. Defensively our work rate communication and focus was there for just about all 90 minutes,” said Blomquist. “They had some very good players and we knew we had to be alert and sharp defensively. I think Robert and Lucas controlled the group from the back. Both of them were very bright today.”
“The team will enjoy a break until Sep. 15, and for Blomquist the timing is perfect.
“It’s a good time for the break, it’ll give the guys time to adjust to a new schedule,” said the coach about the break coinciding with the beginning of fall classes. “Guys have to get used to hitting the books and managing their lives a little different now. We’ve been pushing pretty hard, it’ll be nice for a few days off away from the game.”