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Cruel and Costly

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Published
October 2, 2003
By
Micah McDaniel
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Concordia 1
Azusa Pacific 0

AZUSA, Calif. -- When Azusa Pacific head coach Phil Wolf looks back on this one, he’ll probably see it as the one that got away.

Despite a continual offensive onslaught for nearly 90 full minutes and playing the final 34 minutes with a man advantage, Azusa Pacific failed to score, and it was the NAIA’s No. 19-ranked Concordia that capitalized in a 1-0 win over the Cougars.

“Soccer can be a cruel game,” said Wolf, “but that’s the way it goes sometimes. They are a good team, and we have nothing to be ashamed about. We played well but just couldn’t finish our chances.”

In a very physical game where 41 fouls were called, 5 cautions were issued and one player was ejected, the Cougars outplayed the Eagles for most of the night, out shooting them 19-11, including a 12-4 mark in the second half. However, after Cheyne Gordon was sent off in the 56th minute with a red card, the Eagles tightened the ranks and drew first blood.

Instead of sitting back while playing a man down, the Eagles attacked. In the 76th minute, an Eagle defender sent a long ball into the box. Kyle Carroll went up and won a header and sent the ball to Brett Weyer, who one-timed it to an open Shaun Rice on the right side of the box, who found the net for the game’s lone goal.

It was survival of the fittest as both goalkeepers—Azusa Pacific’s Morgan Cathey and Concordia’s Ryan Hopkins—stood on their heads the entire night keeping the scoreboard from getting out of control.

Cathey collected 7 fantastic saves, while the All-GSAC Hopkins stuffed 10 Cougar shots, including 3 point-blank one-on-one attacks in a 3-minute span early in the second half.

“He (Hopkins) played fantastic tonight,” said Wolf.

Straight out of the scoreless first half, the Cougars nearly broke through just 15 seconds in, when Ian Leibbrandt carried the ball nearly 35 yards and sent a shot from the right side of the box that deflected off the inside far post before being cleared away.

The Cougars continued the assault for the rest of the half bringing attack after attack, including the trio of breakaways, however, Hopkins stood tall making 6 of his 10 saves in the second half.

“You get concerned when you stop creating chances,” said Wolf, “so I’m not concerned yet. We are creating and getting chances. That’s not our problem. We just have to find a way to put them away.”

The win is the Eagles’ first over Azusa Pacific in the past 13 meetings and their third in the 20 previous match-ups between the 2 teams. Concordia improves to 9-1 overall, 1-0 GSAC, while Azusa Pacific drops to 6-4, 0-2.