AZUSA, Calif. -- All-GSAC forward Ian Leibbrandt scored his eighth and ninth goals of the season, including the go-ahead goal off a header, to lead Azusa Pacific to 3-1 victory over Cal Baptist in a GSAC game in Azusa, Tuesday evening.
For Leibbrandt, it was the fourth multi-goal game of his career, the third this season, and second in as many games. In fact, Leibbrandt has tallied 4 of his team-leading 9 goals in the past 2 games. His offensive outburst has arrived at a moment not too soon.
“This was a huge win for us,” said third-year Cougar coach Phil Wolf, who is now 3-0 vs. Cal Baptist. “We needed this victory because a loss would have pretty much ended any hope we had of making the playoffs.”
After going 3 games without a goal to start GSAC play, Azusa Pacific has rebounded with 9 goals in the past 2 games. Leibbrandt got the Cougars on the board first against Cal Baptist when he took a Skelly Kellar free kick that had ricocheted off Chandler Harris and rifled past Lancer keeper Justin Nitti into the lower left corner at the less than 19 minutes into the game.
Cal Baptist answered before the half when Jerry Rios chipped an arching shot over Cougar keeper Julian Cottrell to knot the game at 1-1 in the 35th minute.
Azusa Pacific out-shot Cal Baptist, 8-2, in the opening half, which included 5 shots on goal. Nitti made an outstanding save on a point-blank rocket, and the Lancers cleared another Cougar shot off the goal line to keep Azusa Pacific from running away before halftime.
Less than 10 minutes into the second half, the game broke loose for Azusa Pacific when Leibbrandt took a Harris corner kick and headed it in for a 2-1 Cougar lead. Freshman Justin Kari, added an insurance goal, his second of the season, when he blasted a rebound from 12 yards out past Nitti in the 83rd minute.
With the victory, Azusa Pacific is now 11-1-1 vs. Cal Baptist since 1994. On the season, the Cougars improve to 8-5 overall and 2-3 in the GSAC. Cal Baptist suffers its first conference loss of the season and falls to 8-4 overall, 4-1 in the GSAC.