AZUSA, Calif. -- Head coach Phil Wolf wants every player he gives an opportunity to on the field to take advantage of it and with 3 games in 4 days there was no better place to start than this afternoon’s game against Hope International.
James Crawford and Chris Batdorf took full advantage as the NAIA’s No. 6-ranked Azusa Pacific (10-2, 4-1) trounced Hope International (7-5, 2-3), 4-0, Wednesday afternoon at the Azusa Square.
Crawford, making his first collegiate start in goal, stopped all the shots that he faced in recording his first career shutout and the fifth of the season by the Cougars. Batdorf saw significant action in the game and made the most of it by scoring its first 2 goals.
While it was a big game for the freshmen, it was almost a personal affair for the Royals who from the opening moments of the game tried to be as physical as possible with Azusa Pacific. Blake Etherton and Andrew Pizano were both issued yellow cards in the first 7 minutes of the game.
The Cougars responded with a flurry of scoring chances but could not find the back of the net. They took 10 first half shots, including 7 shots on goal, but did not score until the 40th minute when Dustin McBride delivered a cross to Batdorf who beat a defender to the ball and scored from point blank range to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.
“I went in knowing that I would get opportunities,” said Batdorf. “I saw the ball go out wide to Dustin and the defense got sucked in. I was nervous when I saw the ball but just wanted to put a touch on it and it went it.”
Azusa Pacific had other first half chances but Sven Simon had a header go off the woodwork and later had a scoring header negated because he was whistled for being offside. With the score 1-0, he would have to wait until the second half for his pound of flesh.
In the 53rd minute, Simon ripped a shot from 15 yards out that deflected to the foot of Batdorf who found the back of the net for a 2-0 lead on his second goal of the afternoon.
Then in the 62nd minute he found himself with his own rebound opportunity and Simon ripped into it, blasting it inside the near post, for his fourth goal of the year to make it 3-0.
The Cougars finished their scoring in the 85th minute when Steven Lenhart headed home a Brandon Stirm corner kick for the final 4-0 margin.
Wolf assessed his team’s performance. “We’ve got quality throughout the team. I need to manage them because we are playing 3 games in 4 days and we can’t be shot going into the next game. I tell the guys when they get a chance to take it and James and Chris both did that today.”
While the attack broke open the close game in the second half the defense stayed organized and did not allow the Royals many scoring opportunities. “I just wanted to keep the guys together and make sure that we defended and kept the back line organized,” said Crawford. “This is a big win because we were coming off a loss. This is a good result.”
The Cougars now travel to San Diego, Calif. and take on No. 14-ranked Point Loma Nazarene on Friday, Oct. 14, at 3 p.m.