AZUSA, Calif. -- Senior Andriy Budnyy has had some terrific games playing in an Azusa Pacific uniform. On 9 different occasions he has scored 2 goals in a game, including twice already this year.
Today, Budnyy found the elusive hat trick after he scored 3 goals in Azusa Pacific's 8-0 win over Warner Pacific (Ore.). It was an afternoon of scoring at the pitch for 11 different Cougars who recorded at least a point.
Budnyy, now with a team-high 9 goals, got the Cougars off to a good start with a goal in the 25th minute. Junior Skelly Kellar delivered a left cross that Budnyy headed past the Knights keeper Brandon Mitalis to give Azusa Pacific (5-0) a 1-0 lead.
Things were just getting started for the Cougars on a calm, partly overcast afternoon at the Azusa Square. In the 40th minute, sophomore Brandon Stirm scored on a one time volley off a cross from sophomore Kolt Callaway making it a 2-0 game. It was Stirm's first goal of the season.
In the second half matters only got worse for the Knights as Budnyy got his second goal in the 51st minute by burying a penalty kick into the lower right corner past Mitalis who had no chance to save it.
Not to be outdone, senior forward Ian Leibbrandt got into the act with a breakaway goal in the 54th minute. It was his eighth goal of the year.
Budnyy completed his afternoon of work by hammering home a Kellar pass from 15 yards out. The shot came from a tricky angle, but the velocity Budnyy put on the ball enabled it to sneak inside the near post to extend the lead to 5-0.
As the second half progressed, Azusa Pacific added 3 more goals. Junior Donny Dequine scored his second goal of the season on a nice feed from Stirm in the 63rd minute to make it 6-0.
Freshman Chris Batdorf and sophomore Steven Lenhart tallied goals late to round out the scoring. Batdorf took a pass from senior Richie Craven and ran up the left side before blasting a shot that found the back of the net. It was Batdorf's first career collegiate goal. Lenhart scored for the fifth time this season by sliding the ball past Mitalis. Junior Kris Van Houten tallied the assist for his first point of the year.
Senior goalkeeper Morgan Cathey combined with sophomore Zach Baker on the Cougars' third shutout of the season.
The Cougars dominated in every statistical category. They outshot the Knights 26-5, including 19 shots on goal. Azusa Pacific also took 11 corner kicks to just 1 for Warner Pacific.
With the victory, the NAIA's No. 5-ranked Cougars have matched their best start in program history. They began the 1995 and 1996 seasons by winning their first 5 matches. However, a challenging road trip to the state of Oklahoma looms.
"This will be a big trip for us," said head coach Phil Wolf. "We will by playing a couple of good teams and it's important that we do well because it will help gauge where we are at."
The Cougars will take on the NAIA's No. 9-ranked Southern Nazarene (Okla.) on Friday, September 16, in Bethany, Okla., at 3 p.m. (CDT).