AZUSA, Calif. -- Someday soon, Azusa Pacific will play another soccer game that lasts “only” 90 minutes, but for the second straight game the Cougars went into overtime to deliver a dramatic Pacific West Conference victory at home.
This time, it was junior midfielder Steven Shiokari who provided the heroics, both the second-half equalizer that sent the game to overtime as well as the 100th-minute “golden goal” that lifted Azusa Pacific to the 3-2 victory over Holy Names Monday afternoon.
Opportunities were not easy to come by in the overtime period, with the Cougars managing just one shot in the nine minutes and 20 seconds that preceded Shiokari’s game-winner. However, Shiokari took advantage when it mattered the most, placing a shot in the right side of the box to the far post just outside the reach of Holy Names goalkeeper Philip Poser.
“We work hard for each other and never stop fighting,” Shiokari said. “I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I got a little lucky, and it just happened to go in.”
Shiokari also answered a pair of Holy Names goals before and after halftime, tying the game at 2-2 when he flew into the box at the back post to head in a Carlos Garcia Partida cross from the right side in the 55th minute. The Cougars’ first goal, which came on the second of its 12 first-half shots, was scored by junior midfielder Michael Sahagian, who finished a through ball from Jeremy Bishop less than five minutes into the game for an early 1-0 lead. The goal for Sahagian marked his fourth consecutive game either scoring or assisting a goal.
“One of the things we look to do is get numbers forward into the box when we’re attacking,” Cougar head coach Dave Blomquist said. “Holy Names also had a lot of quality attacking players, and both teams were going for it, so five goals (in the game) was the result of that.”
The Hawks evened things up in the 39th minute, when Jaime Phillips took advantage of a giveaway just outside the box by Cougar goalkeeper Chip Cox. Phillips got past Cox, and junior midfielder Oktay Bulut got a foot on it in front of the goal line in an attempt to clear it away, but Phillips’ shot continued into the goal.
After tying the game with just over six minutes left in the first half, Phillips put the Hawks in front in the opening minute after halftime when he got a step on his defender and stopped in the box to turn and put the ball past Cox just 52 seconds into the second half. The Hawks managed just one more shot the rest of the game, which came on a free kick in the 72nd minute and was saved by Cox.
“It was a really intense battle,” Blomquist said. “We were fortunate enough to grind it out in overtime and come away with a game-winning goal.”
Azusa Pacific finished with a 19-6 edge in shots as it improved to 5-0 at home this season. The Cougars are one of six teams with either five or six wins grouped at the top of the Pacific West Conference standings, improving to 5-2 in league play and 7-3-1 overall with Monday’s win. Holy Names drops to 5-5-1 overall and 3-4 in PacWest play.
Azusa Pacific plays at home for two more games this week before its next road trip, hosting Chaminade on Thursday, Oct. 11 and BYU Hawaii on Saturday, Oct. 13.