AZUSA, Calif. -- Jason Surrell knew that he should be prepared. The Azusa Pacific head coach brought an extra set of clothes just in case his women’s soccer team captured the Golden State Athletic Conference title on an overcast afternoon at the Azusa Square and celebrated with the traditional dumping of the Gatorade jug on the coach.
He avoided getting wet, perhaps because it was to chilly for anyone to remember, as the NAIA’s No. 1-ranked Azusa Pacific defeated Concordia, 1-0, to win the GSAC championship for the fourth time in the past 6 years and the first since 2002.
“We played well defensively and created enough chances to win,” said Surrell. “This was 1 of the goals that we shoot for at the beginning of the year. We have good players and good depth and our chemistry makes all the difference in the world.”
The Cougars got on the board in the 22nd minute when Megan Cardin directed a corner kick at Concordia keeper Suzanne Torres. As she reached up for the ball it caromed off her hands and into the back of the net for what turned out to be the only score of the game.
“I tried to put it in there and force the keeper to make a decision,” said Cardin. “These close games have helped us build character and it is awesome to be back on top.”
Azusa Pacific again used a stifling defense to prevent any quality chances against keeper Jill Colfer who recorded her fifth consecutive shutout and eleventh of the season. Colfer lowered her goals against average to 0.33.
The Cougars made it through the regular season unbeaten for the first time in Surrell’s tenure. “I told the girls after the game that with our schedule if you had told me we would go undefeated I would have said that you are crazy,” he said.
Of the Cougars’ 14 wins, 5 of them came against top-25 opponents including a win over perennial power Lindsey Wilson. That victory snapped the Blue Raiders 35-game home unbeaten streak.
Azusa Pacific took 15 shots in the game with 9 on goal. Torres was able to collect 8 saves as she spoiled several chances for the Cougars. Both teams had 3 corner kicks.
Remarkably, Azusa Pacific has allowed only 6 goals all season with just 2 of those coming in conference play. The victory also gives the Cougars a 6-0-1 regular season record at the Azusa Square.
The remainder of the GSAC will play on Saturday but because Azusa Pacific has accrued 24 points second place Point Loma Nazarene cannot catch up with its 20. The Cougars now prepare to host a NAIA Regional first round playoff game on Tuesday, Nov. 1.
With the win the Cougars wrap up the regular season at 14-0-3, 7-0-3. Concordia drops to 9-8-1, 5-3-1, with 1 game remaining.