Santa Barbara, Calif. – They put this game on the schedule because both teams had a difficult time scheduling enough contests this year and they needed games.
At first glance, it’s just a meaningless non-conference, schedule filler with little on the line, but for an Azusa Pacific team coming off back-to-back shutout losses, a 2-1 win in Santa Barbara over GSAC-rival Westmont means the world.
“We worked hard for this one,” said an elated Azusa Pacific head coach Phil Wolf, who recorded his first win in 3 games over his older brother and Westmont head coach Dave. “It was very hot up here, and the guys are very tired, because they put in a fantastic effort. What a great result for them.”
Sophomore Ian Leibbrandt gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead with his third goal of the season in the 40th minute. Junior Jason Van Broekhuizen lofted a free-kick from 40 yards out into the box, and Leibbrandt went up to win the ball and headed the service into the net. The Cougars nearly took a 2-0 lead into the intermission, but freshman Daniel Kari’s point-blank shot bounced off the post.
Midway through the second half, freshman Justin Kari scored his first career goal when cleaned up a loose ball in front of the Warrior net to give the Cougars an insurmountable 2-goal advantage with 26 minutes to play. The Cougars had chances to make it a 3-goal game, but failed to close the door.
“We played real well and had numerous opportunities to go up 3-0, but just couldn’t put away our opportunities,” said Wolf. “We were in on goal our fair share of times and just couldn’t pull the trigger.”
In the waning minutes, Westmont applied pressure and scrambled for some late-minute heroics. The Warriors cut the deficit in half with a goal off a corner kick in the 86th minute, but it was too little to late and the Cougars escaped with the win.
“We made a few adjustments defensively and it worked great,” said Wolf. “We didn’t give away much in the flow of play. I was really pleased with the effort today.”
Sophomore Morgan Cathey got the nod in goal and needed to make just 1 save in the first half to record the win.
With the win, the Cougars improve to 2-2-0 on the season. Westmont falls to 1-2-0.