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AZUSA, Calif.-- Oktay Bulut converted a PK in the first half, Trenton Titus scored in the second, and the Azusa Pacific men’s soccer team won its sixth straight match, defeating BYU-Hawaii 2-1 on Thursday night. The Cougars (6-2, 3-0) nearly pitched their third consecutive shutout, but a 90th minute goal put an end to Azusa Pacific’s string of 334 scoreless minutes.
“That was a good team we played tonight and we’re happy to come out and get our third PacWest win,” said head coach Dave Blomquist.
Azusa Pacific relied on two of its senior leaders to turn the tide in a match that began with BYU-Hawaii (2-2-1, 0-1) creating multiple chances in the early going. Bulut, however, worked his way into the box and earned his second penalty of the season in the 41st minute before placing his PK past the keeper to give the Cougars a 1-0 edge. Seven minutes into the second half Steven Shiokari found Titus on the right side of the box, where the senior then went top-shelf to make it a 2-0 match with his first goal of the season.
“On both goals we worked the ball really well and were really sharp in the box. Oktay earned the penalty and converted, and then Trenton’s goal was just a real quick interplay. We need them to show that senior leadership and come through big moments like they did tonight,” said Blomquist.
Azusa Pacific out shot BYU-Hawaii 15-11, and held the possession advantage, playing in the Seasider half for the majority of the night.
“I thought our ball movement was great tonight. We were real crisp and I thought it was our best passing of the year. Things like that take time, and as time goes on and the team gets more used to each other we’re getting better at it, and it bodes well for us moving forward,” said Blomquist.
The Cougars’ two scores gave Azusa Pacific enough breathing room over the course of the match as the team almost extended its conference scoreless streak to three matches thanks to another impressive defensive effort. BYU-Hawaii eventually found a crack and got on the board in the 90th, far too late to mount a comeback.
“Jamarko Washington and Nate Nugen have been great at centerback, and Dane Johnson and Tanner Akol have done a real good job on the outside. We’ve been making all of the plays when we needed to, but with 90 minutes against a quality team, it’s tough to keep them off the scoreboard the whole time. That was a quality goal they scored,” said Blomquist.
The Seasiders broke the Cougars’ bid for their fourth shutout when Richard Harrison scored far post from 15 yards out on the right side, just out of reach of junior keeper Chip Cox. Cox closed the night with a match-high three saves, and since a 3-0 loss to Cal State L.A. in the season opener, hasn’t surrendered more than one goal in a game.
Azusa Pacific will return to action on Monday in search of its seventh straight win when it takes on Hawai’i Pacific at 7:30 at the Cougar Soccer Complex.