AZUSA, Calif. -- Last year, Alliant International earned its first-ever NAIA Tournament appearance at the expense of Azusa Pacific. Tonight, the Cougars got their revenge with a 3-1 win over the Mountain Lions in Azusa.
The win snaps the Cougars' 4-game winless streak, their longest streak since 1999.
The Cougars, ranked No. 18 in the NAIA, move to 3-3-2 overall and began their defense of their GSAC crown Wednesday at Cal Baptist at 3 p.m. Alliant falls to 5-6.
"It took a little bit of toughness and a little bit of heart to win this one," said second-year head coach Phil Wolf. "We needed to get a W going into league with a little momentum and feeling good about yourself. I scheduled tough the first 8 games and it showed tough. We've been beat up, but tonight we turned this game into a brawl instead of a chess match, and it's great to get a win playing like that."
Senior Jordan Jones put the Cougars on the board in the final minutes of the first half with the first of his 2 goals when he took Michael Dwinell's cross and buried into an open net, and the Cougars appeared to be on their way.
However, 10 minutes into the second half, a heavy downpour began to fall and with it the Cougars' momentum did too. Alliant began to take control and finally capitalized with an equalizer in the 63rd minute. Dustin Aglio headed in Bernard Leitners corner kick to the near post and knotted the game 1-1.
The rain didn't let up and neither did the Cougars. Just 11 minutes later, John Kightlinger started a brilliant Azusa Pacific run by sending the ball towards the corner flag and to an onrushing Chandler Harris. Harris took one touch and sent a low ball to the box where Jason Van Broekhuizen one-timed it into the near post net for his first goal of the year and a 2-1 Azusa Pacific lead.
Jones put the game away in the 83rd minute with his team-leading fourth goal of the season. He stole an errant Mountain Lion touch in the defensive third, carried the ball into the box, then beat the lone AIU defender 1-on-1 with a nifty crossover move.
"The defender had a bad touch, and I just snuck in behind him and got the opportunity that forwards love -- a 1-on-1 with a defender where you get to do what you want," said Jones. "I think this will definitely lift everybody's spirit. It will change everybody's attitude at practice this week. This is a good team and a good way to go into league, and it does help the sting from last year."
The Cougars outshot AIU, 13-9, in a very physical and draining game. A total of 42 fouls (21 apiece) were called, and 4 yellow cards were issued.
Freshman GK Morgan Cathey collected 2 saves, including a brilliant leaping deflection midway through the second half.