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Stretch Run in Sight

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Published
October 22, 2005
By
Jason Cannon

AZUSA, Calif. -- With several big games looming on the slate next week the NAIA’s No. 6-ranked Azusa Pacific had to stay focused on the task at hand. This afternoon’s match-up against San Diego Christian (1-14, 0-8) might not have served as an enticement on paper but the Cougars did not play like it and blitzed the Hawks 7-0.

The Cougars (14-2, 7-1) got out to a quick lead in the first half thanks to Sven Simon who has been an absolute force lately in the attack. Simon put away a header off an indirect kick by Brandon Stirm to give Azusa Pacific a 1-0 lead.

The Cougars continued to put pressure on Hawks' keeper James Rangel all day. In the 30th minute Simon struck again as a shot by Steven Lenhart deflected off on Rangel’s hand before bounding off the post toward Simon who cleaned up the loose ball to make it 2-0.

As for Azusa Pacific’s defense it held the Hawks' attack in check all day and did not allow a shot on goal in the first half. Keeper James Crawford only had to occasionally direct traffic from the back.

The floodgates opened in the second half as the Cougars were in dominating form. They scored 5 goals and created numerous other scoring chances. Kolt Callaway had a pair of goals giving him 3 for the season. Kris Van Houten scored a 1-on-1 goal in the 59th minute for his second tally of the season.

Lenhart and Richie Craven added goals late for the final margin. It was the eighth goal of the year for Lenhart and the second for Craven.

Having dispatched of the Hawks, Azusa Pacific is now looking at a challenging week to close out its regular season. On Monday the Cougars host a tough foe in Concordia before traveling north to battle No. 16-ranked Fresno Pacific.

“I feel good about us right now,” said head coach Phil Wolf. “We have a huge week coming up and a lot of guys are feeling good about their game.”

The Cougars got an emotional lift from a halftime acknowledgement of the seniors and what they have brought to the program. “I told the guys in the locker room before the game that these are guys that have changed the program. They have terrific qualities and are the spirit of the team. Not only are they a good team but good guys as well,” he said.

The group was largely responsible for helping the Cougars claim a GSAC title a season ago in addition to winning their first ever NAIA Tournament game.

The Cougars outshot the Hawks 25-2 as Crawford recorded his second shutout of the season.

With all accolades on the side for now Azusa Pacific will enjoy a day off before taking on the Eagles on Monday, Oct. 24, at the Azusa Square at 3 p.m.