AZUSA, Calif. -- Head coach Phil Wolf knew that he had put his team in a difficult situation with 3 games in 4 days at this point in season. After the NAIA’s No. 6-ranked Azusa Pacific came from behind to beat Mobile (Ala.), 2-1, the Cougars had perhaps their best week of the season in delivering 3 wins to their coach.
Dustin McBride scored in the 84th minute to lift the Cougars to victory in a hard fought match. Kolt Callaway ripped a shot on goal that deflected to McBride who was in great position to put it in for the game winner.
After a scoreless first half, the Rams got on the board first in the 59th minute when K.K. Limo scored off a cross from Pete Rantala. Like Point Loma Nazarene, the Rams attempted to be physical with the Cougars. However, Azusa Pacific fought its way back into the game.
In the 73rd minute, Sven Simon scored to tie the game up 1-1. Simon made good on the scoring chance to put some life back into the Cougars.
“The ball was crossed really well and I jumped as high as I could and the keeper just got a piece of the header. It came back to me and I was so mad about it I scored it,” said Simon.
McBride’s goal made winners of the Cougars (12-2) who did not shy away at all from the schedule but embraced it as an opportunity.
“We want to have these tough games back-to-back because that is what we will play at the national tournament,” said Simon.
Wolf was pleased with his team’s week. “It was a great performance today against a good team. They were put in a tough situation but it shows the depth and quality of our team,” he said.
Both teams took 9 shots while Azusa Pacific had an edge on goal 4-3. Each team took 6 corner kicks.
The win marks the second straight year that the Cougars have beaten the Rams. Azusa Pacific won, 4-2, in the opening round of the last season’s NAIA Tournament. However, the Rams attempt at revenge was turned away empty handed.
“We kept the ball really well and swung it around waiting for the right moment to attack,” said Simon. “We can play really well and we can fight hard. We can do both things and that is why I’m proud of this team.”
The Cougars will next travel to Santa Clarita to battle The Master’s next Tuesday at 3 p.m.