Azusa Pacific 6
Hope International 1
AZUSA, Calif. -- Somebody forgot to tell sophomore Chandler Harris that it was Senior Night in Azusa.
Harris netted his first career hat-trick in an 8-minute span just 16 minutes into the game to put the game out of reach before it really got going in a 6-1 GSAC win over Hope International.
Harris added to his already career-high scoring total, scoring his third, fourth and fifth goals of the season in the eighth, 14th and 16th minutes. As if he didn’t make a big enough contribution, he later added 2 assists on the Cougars’ fourth and sixth goals. The win assures Azusa Pacific of its tenth straight winning season.
On a night when the Cougars’ honored defenders Josh Moreno and Babatunde Ilori, Harris connected with Ian Leibbrandt for the first 2 goals in near identical fashion to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead just 14 minutes into the game. Both times, Leibbrandt broke free down the right sideline, turned into the middle and sent a low cross to a waiting Harris, who stared at an open net.
Then in the 16th minute, Harris received the ball in the midfield, touched into open space and blasted a 30-yard shot into the left netting unassisted for a 3-0 Cougar lead.
The Royals answered in the 35th minute when Jared Schotten headed home a throw-in from D.J. Crider past Cougar GK Morgan Cathey.
Tony Rotunno got into the act, scoring his first goal of the season in the 83rd minute on a 25-yard blast taken off an assist by Harris on a short corner kick.
Leibbrandt then scored one-minute later by beating the keeper to his right off an assist from Dustin McBride for his 11th goal of the season.
In the 88th minute, Andrew Hulen rounded out the scoring with his second goal of the season off a corner kick by Harris.
But the night belonged the Harris, who didn’t score any goals as a freshman and had just 2 coming into tonight’s game. The offensive output was needed for the Cougars, who were without second-leading goal scorer Richie Craven, who was out with an injury.
The hat-trick was the Cougars’ first this year and first since Leibbrandt’s trio in last year’s season-finale.
The Cougars controlled play the entire night, generating several opportunities while outshooting the Royals, 18-6.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 10-7 overall, 4-5 GSAC. Hope International drops to 0-9, 6-12.