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Seniors Strike Gold

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Photo by Holly Magnuson
Oktay Bulut's game winner lifted Azusa Pacific to a 1-0 overtime victory against California Baptist on Saturday.

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Published
November 2, 2013
By
Chris Baker
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AZUSA, Calif.-- It was a fitting performance, capped by an unbelievable finish, and after all was said and done the Azusa Pacific men’s soccer team posted a 1-0 overtime win over California Baptist on Saturday afternoon. Oktay Bulut sealed the Cougars’ 13th victory of the season, sending a 45-yard strike into the goal to end a 0-0 deadlock with a shot that had all the makings of a cross before hitting the back of the net in the 96th minute.

The score highlighted an otherwise impeccable showing from the Cougars on senior day as Azusa Pacific (13-4, 9-2) defeated CBU for the second time this season in its final home match of the regular season.

“I’m so happy. Not just for me, but for all of the seniors. Everyone did their part. Jeff Dunn did a fantastic job, so did Jamarko Washington. Steven Shiokari and Trenton Titus worked hard in the middle, and it was a great win for us,” said Bulut, who was one of eight seniors honored before the match.

Azusa Pacific staved off an aggressive Lancer team that finished the day with a 20-7 shot advantage over the Cougars. But senior keeper Jeff Dunn came up with save after save to keep CBU off the board with one of the finest performances of his career.

“I did a little I guess, but I felt like our backline was really strong. Jamarko was my player of the game, he played really well,” said Dunn. “It’s a great win. It was real exciting and I can’t believe how it ended.”

Dunn tallied six saves in the match, and made an impressive stop off a CBU free from just outside of the box in the 77th minute. On the play Dunn dove to his left, punching away Alex Anderson’s strike with the sun in his eyes to keep the score tied 0-0.

Azusa Pacific managed only seven shots, but made the most of its chances with four shots on goal en route to improving to 11-2 in one-score games this season.

“It feels great to get the win. It was a real tough game for us. CBU played great. I thought they were probably a step better than us throughout most of the game. But we defended in some crucial moments,” said head coach Dave Blomquist. “I thought there would be a goal in OT because the game opened up a bit down the stretch. But I didn’t think it would be on a shot from distance like Oktay’s. I couldn’t script it any better. For the seniors to come up so big. They’ve done so much over the years for the program. They’ve put their heart and soul into the past four years, and put their heart and soul into today. I couldn’t be happier for them.”

Azusa Pacific created quality chances in the second half, and almost got on the board in the 64th minute when Billy Flores found a crease in the defense and sent a shot towards the left side before Joey Pacheco stepped in for the save. The Lancers had multiple opportunities in the final 20 minutes of regulation, getting off seven shots in that span, including two looks that were just off the mark.

Early in overtime California Baptist generated a pair of shots, but Dunn was able to step in for a save on one before the other sailed wide. Six minutes into the extra period Bulut controlled a Tanner Akol throw in near midfield, and sent in what at first looked like a cross, but turned out to be a perfectly placed shot from distance to give the Cougars their second overtime win of the year.

The victory keeps Azusa Pacific alive in the hunt for a Pacific West Conference championship. The Cougars can only win the PacWest title if Fresno Pacific, which owns the tiebreaker over Azusa Pacific after Wednesday’s result, falters against either Holy Names or Academy of Art on the road next week.

Azusa Pacific, however, would have to win its final contest of the regular season when it faces Point Loma next Saturday in San Diego. The Cougars are slated to take on the Sea Lions at 1 p.m. in the finale.