SAN DIEGO, Calif.-- Playing without two of its most important players, the Azusa Pacific men’s soccer team had little trouble scratching out a win against Point Loma on Tuesday afternoon. The Cougars, who were missing senior keeper Joe Geletko and sophomore striker Carlos Garcia Partida after the duo earned red cards in the 3-2 win over California Baptist on Friday, got a first half goal from Jeremy Bishop and never looked back, improving to 3-1 in Pacific West Conference play with a 3-1 defeat of the Sea Lions.
Chip Cox, who posted his first action of the season, allowed one goal while registering two saves to earn his first win since his freshman season, while Oktay Bulut continued his torrid streak, recording his third straight match with a goal and an assist. In the last three contests he has five goals and three assists, and paces the team with six goals and four assists in 2012.
The Cougars (5-2-1, 3-1), who led 1-0 at the break, got second half goals from Bulut and Leonardo Grigg to assume a 3-0 advantage before Point Loma (2-4, 1-3) found the back of the net in the 78th minute. Azusa Pacific narrowly outshot Point Loma 10-8, but made the most of its four shots on goal, putting three past Carter Phillips to record the team’s third consecutive 3+ goal game. With the win Azusa Pacific moved into a tie with Grand Canyon (Ariz.) for third place in the PacWest standings.
“Any conference win on the road is a good win. Traveling is difficult and there are a lot of quality teams in the PacWest,” said head coach Dave Blomquist. “To get the win without two key guys is great; it just proves that there are a lot of players willing to step up. A lot of our guys prepare on a daily basis waiting for the chance, and today it showed.”
Azusa Pacific got on the board in the 31st minute when Bishop received a pass and turned his man from 30 yards out. He then beat Point Loma’s last defender to get alone in the box with the keeper before slotting it left side for his second goal of the season. The Cougars went into the break leading 1-0 with a 6-5 shot advantage on the Sea Lions.
In the second half the Cougars extended the lead to 2-0 when Bulut got free down the right side and delivered a ball six yards out to Grigg, who timed it perfectly and tucked it into the corner of the goal in the at the 69:16 mark. Azusa Pacific made it a 3-0 contest in the 75th after a nifty combination between Bulut and Michael Sahagian. In the series Sahagian played Bulut’s feet, who then gave it back before Sahagian cut it to Bulut who placed it past the keeper on a one-timer from five yards out..
“We’ve been scoring well as of late. I think the guys are showing the desire to score. I think the biggest plus in today’s game was the quality we showed in the three attacking plays where we found the back of the net,” said Blomquist.
The Cougars have scored 11 goals in the last three matches, with Bulut having a hand in eight of them.
“He’s been dictating a lot for us with what he’s been doing in the possession game. It’s showed in both the goals he’s getting for himself and the goals he’s creating for others,” said Blomquist.
Point Loma ended the Cougars’ shutout bid in the 78th minute when Dylan Wingrove scored off a cross from Ian Vedder. Azusa Pacific will now travel to Phoenix for a matchup between two 3-1 PacWest teams when they face Grand Canyon for a 5:45 p.m. contest.