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Early Strikes Sink Cougars

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Michael Sahagian scored his second goal of the year to cut the Grand Canyon lead to 2-1 in the final 10 minutes.

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September 29, 2012
Joe Reinsch
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PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Azusa Pacific’s three-game winning streak was halted by NCAA Division II’s No. 18-ranked Grand Canyon, which won its third in a row on the strength of a pair of first-half goals in a 2-1 win over the Cougars Saturday evening in Phoenix.

A victory would have propelled Azusa Pacific into a second-place tie near the top of the Pacific West Conference standings, but instead the Antelopes took that spot by scoring twice in the first half and holding on for the win. The victory puts Grand Canyon at 4-1 in PacWest play (7-2 overall), while Azusa Pacific drops to 3-2 in conference play and 5-3-1 overall.

Junior midfielder Michael Sahagian scored in the 82nd minute, cutting the Grand Canyon lead to 2-1, but the Cougars couldn’t generate another shot until the closing seconds when Steven Shiokari put a shot on goal with 15 seconds left in the game that was saved by GCU goalkeeper Joshua Zehring.

Less than a minute earlier, Grand Canyon’s Saeed Robinson nearly made it a 3-1 game, but his shot hit the post to keep the Cougars within striking distance in the closing moments of the contest. Robinson took more shots than any other player in the game, firing eight shots without scoring.

Grand Canyon out-shot Azusa Pacific, both overall and within each half of play, finishing with a 17-10 advantage in shots. Cougar goalkeeper Chip Cox made five saves, including a pair that came before Zoran Nincevic headed a corner kick from Stipe-Darko Medic for the go-ahead goal in the 19th minute. Cox made another save just 30 seconds after the goal, and Brandon Hansen buried a shot in the 24th minute to push the lead to 2-0.

Freshman forward Keenan Armbrust put a pair of shots on goal in the first half, but both were saved by Zehring, who finished with four saves in the match.

The Cougars return to action on Thursday, Oct. 4, hosting Hawaii Pacific at 5 p.m. in the first of four consecutive PacWest home games over the next two weeks.