AZUSA, Calif.-- The Azusa Pacific men’s soccer team felt like it left a lot on the field in its 3-0 loss to Hawai’i Pacific on Monday. On Thursday night the Cougars flipped the script, making the most of their opportunities to score three times in the first half of a 3-0 victory over Hawai’i Hilo.
“We started out really well and had some quality finishes and that was the biggest difference tonight. The other night we didn’t do that and tonight the guys wanted to make it right,” said head coach Dave Blomquist. “We moved the ball quickly and got numbers forward. In the first 30 minutes we were getting a lot of players forward in the attack and got three great goals. It gets us right back on track in conference.”
The Cougars (7-3, 4-1) scored three times in the first 21 minutes of action, posting a season-high in goals, while tabbing their third shutout in Pacific West Conference play. Freshman midfielder Colton Lamb put Azusa Pacific on the board in the 15th minute, settling a pass from Trenton Titus at the 18, and bending into the upper right corner for his first goal of the season.
Two minutes later the Cougars notched what may have been their prettiest goal of the year. On the play Keenan Armbrust got the ball to Tanner Akol on the far sideline, 45 yards out. The sophomore defender then sent a deep cross over the box, where Oktay Bulut arrived perfectly to head the ball into the far right netting from 10 yards out for his first of two goals on the night.
“They were all great plays tonight. Oktay’s score was a really well worked play just to get it to Tanner, who then delivered a fantastic deep cross from distance that Oktay arrived on perfectly,” said Blomquist.
The senior midfielder found the back of the net again in the 21st minute, bending a free kick over a line of Vulcan defenders into the upper left corner for his fourth goal of the season.
Once Azusa Pacific grabbed a 3-0 advantage it did a good job keeping it, registering its fourth shutout of the season. Senior keepers Jeff Dunn and Scott Kinney combined for the clean sheet, finishing with five saves between them. Dunn started in goal, and absorbed a big hit in the 15th when he collided with Xavier Fuerte on a save near the penalty area. Dunn had four first half saves before giving way to Kinney.
Kinney registered one save on the night, but was active throughout the second half. The keeper made multiple leaping grabs off set pieces, and knocked away numerous crosses into the box in his first night of action this year. The Cougar defense allowed only five shots on goal, and gave up just four second half shots as they protected their three score lead.
“We took care of the ball fairly well. Once you have a lead if you keep the ball and move it around it makes it tough for the other team to come back. When you get a lead you don’t want to fall into a lull. Everyone that got on tonight did really well,” said Blomquist.
The Cougars outshot Hawai’i Hilo 16-4, and generated 10 corner kicks compared to the Vulcans’ two to improve to 4-1 in conference action after winning six of their last seven games.
Azusa Pacific will return to the field on Saturday night when it welcomes Chaminade to the Cougar Soccer Complex for a 7:30 matchup.