WHEATON, Ill.-- Head Coach Dave Blomquist was an all-American center back at Wheaton College in his playing days, so needless to say in his first appearance as a head coach at his alma mater expectations were high. Blomquist’s team didn’t disappoint, scoring a season-high five goals in the Cougars’ 5-0 rout of St. Xavier (Ill.) at Joe Bean Stadium on Thursday night.
“It brought back a lot of memories,” said Blomquist. “It was really special to coach my team on the field that I played on… it turned into a memorable night.”
Azusa Pacific, ranked No. 7 in the NAIA, won its fourth straight behind Joe Geletko’s second shutout of the year, and a balanced offensive attack.
Geletko kept the match 0-0 with a huge save early in the first half before the Cougars struck first as freshman forward Carlos Garcia-Partida and Trenton Titus got the ball to senior Nathan Nienhuis who turned and scored for his second goal of the season in the 36th minute.
Moments later Jeremy Bishop banged in a header off a cross from freshman Jordan Markovich 37 minutes into the match for a quick 2-0 lead. Azusa Pacific out shot St. Xavier 12-2 in the first 45 minutes, but AJ Pfatschbache tallied four saves to keep his team down by just two.
However, the keeper couldn’t hold down Azusa Pacific for long. In the 49th minute Garcia-Partida beat an offside trap, received a pass from Nienhuis and then slotted it past Pfatschbache for his fourth goal in the last four games to give the Cougars a commanding three goal lead.
Oktay Bulut followed suit with a header from Bishop to match Garcia-Partida with his fourth goal of the year. At 82:20 the team capped the scoring as Henry Ortlip found the back of the net for his second goal of the season and third of his career. The goal was assisted by Kevin Yang, who found Ortlip at the back post for an open-netter.
Azusa Pacific posted its largest margin of victory on the season, but Blomquist contends that it was much closer than the score indicated.
“I wouldn’t consider it lopsided…the difference was that we scored on our chances that we created,” said Blomquist. “I thought the first half was a really tight contest. They did some nice things in the first half, and Geletko came up with a really big save. If we go down 1-0 at the point it’s completely different.”
Titus registered a team season-high three assists on the day, while the Cougars had an 11-3 shots-on-goal advantage.
Tonight was the first ever meeting between the two programs, as Blomquist returned to the same field where he helped lead the Wheaton College Thunder to a 60-19-1 record in his four years of play (1992-’95). The coach was a two-time first team all-CCIW (College Conference of Illinois-Wisconsin) performer and 1995 conference player of the year. He also was a member of three conference championship teams (’92-’93, ’95), and made three consecutive NCAA Div. III tournament appearances (’93-’95).
Because of his phenomenal career at center back for the Thunder, Wheaton College has announced it will induct Blomquist into its school’s Hall of Honor on Oct. 8. Blomquist will join former Azusa Pacific head coach Phil Wolf in the hall.
After leaving Wheaton, the men will travel to Bethel (Ind.) for a 12 p.m. (PDT) start on Saturday.
Highlights From The Match