LA MIRADA, Calif. -- It had been 11 days since Azusa Pacific had played a game and for the first 6 minutes tonight it showed.
The No. 5-ranked Cougars were greeted by a terrific start from Biola, quickly falling behind 2-0, before settling in and storming back to claim a 3-2 win on Andriy Budnyy’s golden goal in the 101st minute at Al Barbour Field, in La Mirada, Calif.
The Eagles (4-3, 0-1) scored their first goal before the crowd had finished filing in as Colin Kilpatrick gave his team a 1-0 lead after only 28 seconds had evaporated. The Cougars (7-1, 1-0) defense suffered another let down in the 6th minute when Christian Rus scored to make it 2-0.
However, Azusa Pacific regrouped and did not allow another goal for the rest of the night.
While the defense battened down the hatches, the offense began to attack and create scoring chances. In the 29th minute, the Cougars were able to get on the board when Ian Leibbrandt found the back of the net off a pass from Sven Simon. For Leibbrandt, it was his ninth goal of the season.
Inside of 5 minutes later, Azusa Pacific struck again. This time it was Budnyy who hammered home his twelfth goal of the year, again on a Simon assist, to knot the game at 2-2.
The momentum that the Eagles had created had swung back the other way and the game remained tied throughout the remainder of regulation sending it to overtime.
The first overtime did not yield any goals and the game proceeded to a second overtime period. At that point, it took Budnyy only 23 seconds to slot the ball near post past a diving Ryan George to give the Cougars a 3-2 win.
“We struggled with the final pass for most of the night but not at the end,” said Budnyy. “When we scored our goals tonight we were able to get that final pass. Coach (Wolf) has been talking to us about our starts and we have to come out with more intensity in games like this and not get behind.”
Despite the win, another slow start could have made for a worse outcome without the comeback.
“We can’t start the game down 2-0 like that,” said head coach Phil Wolf. “We’ve done that to ourselves several times this year already and we can’t continue it.”
It was the third consecutive game that the Cougars’ opponent has scored first and fourth overall this season. Azusa Pacific has won 3 of those games.
Biola was unable to capitalize on its chances in the upset bid. The Eagles took 1 more shot in the game (12-11) and had 5 corner kicks to none for the Cougars.
The NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Azusa Pacific will be back in action on Saturday, Oct. 1, against Westmont at the Azusa Square beginning at 1 p.m.