RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- After opening the Golden State Athletic Conference schedule with back-to-back overtime games, the NAIA's No. 3-ranked Azusa Pacific returned to the win column with a 3-1 win in regulation over host California Baptist.
With just over 5 minutes remaining in the first half, junior Brandon Stirm fired his second goal of the season into the side netting to California Baptist goalkeeper Casey Pradmore's left side, with the assists credited to junior Sven Simon and senior Donny Dequine. The Cougars held the 1-0 lead through halftime and held California Baptist to just 2 shot attempts in the first 45 minutes.
The Azusa Pacific attack stalled a bit in the second half, and the Cougars were whistled offside 3 times after the first-half goal before Simon was taken down hard in a collision in the box in the 78th minute. Junior Skelly Kellar took the penalty kick from the spot and buried it into the side netting, again beating Pradmore to his left.
In the 85th minute, the Lancers cut the Azusa Pacific lead to 2-1 when Spenser Steele headed a cross from Jose Solis past Cougar goalkeeper James Crawford, but junior Steven Lenhart restored the 2-goal cushion in the 87th minute with a quick strike that beat a charging Pradmore for a 3-1 Cougar lead. Dequine led Lenhart with a long ball from midfield, and an onside Lenhart streaked into the box to meet Pradmore 1-on-1 in the right side of the 18-yard box.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 2-0-1 (7 points) in GSAC play, 7-1-1 overall, while California Baptist remains winless in conference play with an 0-2-1 (1 point) mark and drops to 1-8-1 overall. The Cougars return to the field Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. in the first game of a GSAC men’s and women’s soccer doubleheader with Vanguard.