Fresno Pacific 2
Azusa Pacific 0
FRESNO, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific knew that this week would go a long way in showing the Cougars exactly where they stood. They are staring down the barrel of a schedule that pitted them against a pair of NAIA Top 25 teams to open their GSAC season, and this week could either make them or break them.
First up was a date on the road with No. 8-ranked Fresno Pacific tonight, and for 83 minutes, the Cougars showed that they belonged at the top. However, a defensive breakdown in the 83rd minute allowed the Sunbirds to break through, and by the time the dust settled, Fresno Pacific escaped with a 2-0 win over the Cougars in both team’s GSAC opener.
In the 83rd minute, the Sunbirds’ Jared Dugger took advantage of a Cougar defensive miscue, collected the ball unmarked in the box and buried the ball to Cougar keeper Morgan Cathey’s left and into the net to break a scoreless tie.
"We gave them one," said Azusa Pacific head coach Phil Wolf. "We failed to clear when we had the opportunity, and it cost us. You can't to do that in a game, especially one like this."
The goal put the Cougars into immediate desperation mode in an attempt to get the equalizer. It never came, but because the Cougars were pressing in the attack, it opened more space for the Sunbirds to find an insurance tally.
Less than 4 minutes after Dugger’s goal, Eddie Gutierrez took an Orlando Ramirez service and blasted it past Cathey, who despite allowing 2 goals played brilliantly and collected 7 saves.
The Cougars did not go the entire night without their chances as the game was played at a frenetic pace the entire night. Cougar forwards Ian Leibbrandt and Richie Craven both had breakaway opportunities with the best coming in the 60th minute, but neither was able to capitalize.
The loss snaps the Cougars’ 5-game win streak and drops them to 6-3 overall, 0-1 in the GSAC. Fresno Pacific improves to 8-1, 1-0. There will be little time for the Cougars to recover as they host No. 19-ranked Concordia Thursday night in Azusa.