RIVERSIDE, Calif.-- The Azusa Pacific men’s soccer team grabbed a quick two score lead before holding on for a 2-1 non-conference victory over California Baptist on Saturday afternoon. Sophomores Casey Sbrana and Raul Martinez supplied the first half offense, while the Azusa Pacific defense held off the Lancers until the 81st minute to improve to 9-3 on the season.
Chip Cox recorded four saves in the win, and was nine minutes away from his third shutout in a busy second half where CBU was on the Cougar side more often than not.
“They came out and had a chance within the first few minutes, and Chip got a deflection on the shot. It was a big save early on. We were a little slow on the start, but we weathered the storm and settled in, and really going into a rhythm. From the 15th through the end of the first half we moved the ball well, and got into the attacking third. It was definitely when we were most dangerous, and I’m glad we cashed in because that doesn’t always happen,” said head coach Dave Blomquist.
Martinez put the Cougars on the board in the 30th minute, scoring from six yards out after Keyran Kelly made a play down to the endline, and crossed it into the box. Five minutes later Sbarana provided the game winner after Steven Shiokari slotted a through ball into the box where Sbrana and the keeper arrived at the same time. The sophomore forward collided with the goalie, but had the wherewithal to get up and score into an open net to make it a 2-0 contest.
Over the final 45 minutes CBU outshot Azusa Pacific 7-2, and finally broke through in the 81st when Alex Anderson got behind the Cougar defense for a score. Azusa Pacific’s lead, however, held out as the Cougars posted their straight win.
“In the second half we came out, they were pressing high. They were in our end quite a bit but we managed to hold them off. It was an interesting match. We were missing a few players, so it was a chance for a lot of different guys to play. It was very competitive. Back and forth, right down to the end,” said Blomquist.
Azusa Pacific, which hasn’t played since last weekend’s 6-1 drubbing of Chaminade, will return to PacWest action on Saturday. The Cougars will travel to Dixie State (Utah) for a 12:30 (MDT) tilt against the Red Storm.