ST. GEORGE, Utah-- After an impressive performance from Chip Cox, and a timely goal by Keenan Armbrust the Azusa Pacific men’s soccer team held off a late Dixie State rally to post a 2-1 road victory over the Red Storm on Saturday afternoon.
Cox finished the match with nine saves, and held Dixie State scoreless through the first 85 minutes of action despite facing 17 shots, while Armburst gave the Cougars (10-3, 6-1) a two-score edge in the 80th.
“When you’re up 1-0 you want to find the second one because you never know what can happen late in the game. We were searching in the first half but it really was a culmination of 80 minutes of passing to get that goal. Keenan’s goal was just a really well-timed play. Oktay Bulut slid it to Billy Flores, he played it right across the sticks, and Keenan arrived perfectly. It turned out to be a huge moment because they were putting pressure on us, and eventually got on the board,” said head coach Dave Blomquist.
Bulut put Azusa Pacific ahead 1-0 in the first half after the Red Storm was called for a handball in the box. The senior then took the PK, converting his third penalty kick of the season for his 32nd career goal.
Armbrust’s insurance goal in the 80th proved to be crucial in the 86th minute when Dixie State cut the Cougars’ lead to 2-1 on a header from Jordan Steed. Azusa Pacific, however, held on over the final few minutes to seal its 10th win of the season.
“It feels great to get a win, any conference win on the road is difficult. I think the key to today was how sharp we were defensively. Our back four and Trenton Titus had to be on their toes the whole time. Trenton dominated the air, won a ton of head balls, and that was a huge key. Chip made a ton of saves for us, and his performance was really big for us,” said Blomquist.
The Cougars weren’t sharp offensively in the first half, but still managed to go into the break with a 1-0 lead. The Red Storm outshot Azusa Pacific 7-2, and put four shots on goal. Cox recorded four saves in the first 45 minutes, helping the Cougars overcome a less than perfect start that saw the Red Storm control possession for the majority of the frame.
Dixie State held a 17-4 shot advantage, and put 10 of its shots on goal. The Cougars placed each of their four shots on target, but only generated one corner kick on the day.
Azusa Pacific will continue conference play on Thursday when it travels to Belmont, Calif. for a 3:30 p.m. matchup with Notre Dame de Namur before facing Dominican on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.