AZUSA, Calif. -- When Jill Colfer realized that she had knocked away Alyssa Turner’s attempt at the end the shootout’s first round she was stunned. “I didn’t know that I was outside the post and I thought it had gone in then my teammates were telling me that it hadn’t,” said the second year keeper.
The save came on the heels of a conversion by Sara Odenthal and when Colfer stopped Brittany Hollywood’s attempt to conclude the shootout the NAIA’s No. 1-ranked Azusa Pacific (15-0-4) advanced to the Region II final with a 3-1 advantage in penalty kicks defeating California Baptist.
“It was a perfect shot headed for the lower corner and it was an amazing save by Jill,” said head coach Jason Surrell. “We expected a situation like this and we were prepared for it.”
With the advantage, next up was Jolie Nitta who drilled a PK into the upper 90 to push the lead to 2-0. Monica Lydon and Shannon Coe then exchanged conversions at the south goal before Colfer stepped up again.
Trailing 2-1, Nicole Prather had a chance to bring her team even but hit a shot that forced Colfer to her left but not far enough to elude her as she got her second save of the shootout.
However, the Cougars couldn’t convert with a chance to win it and set up more heroics for their keeper. Hollywood’s kick sailed right into the arms of Colfer ending the match and sending Azusa Pacific into a wild celebration as it remains unbeaten and advances to the Region II championship game for the second consecutive year.
The game ended in a 1-1 tie despite the fact that Azusa Pacific dominated throughout. They outshot the Lancers, 16-3, and took 12 corner kicks to none for California Baptist. However, victory wasn’t secured.
The Lancers scored in the 14th minute when Brittany Davis took a pass from Monica Lydon and was able to beat Colfer far post to make it 1-0. Davis had found an open area and forced Colfer to try and cut off her angle but nevertheless found the back of the net.
“We just had the 1 breakdown today and they capitalized,” said Colfer. “But our team was ready to play and we did well other than the 1 time.”
The Cougars got the equalizer in the 32nd minute after Shannon Coe rifled a shot that deflected off the post and Bridget Brotherton was there to put in the rebound to make it 1-1.
Azusa Pacific had several opportunities to score in the second half, including a header by Odenthal that hit the post, but could not convert. The Lancers meanwhile found scoring chances few and far between as they struggled against a stout Cougar defense.
“We are a smart team and the girls read the game well,” said Surrell. “The girls continued to play great which is how we finished in conference.”
The next challenge awaiting the Cougars is a rematch with No. 10-ranked Point Loma Nazarene. The 2 teams previously tied, 0-0, on Oct. 1 in San Diego and now will battle for the regional title in the Canyon City.
“I’m excited to play them again,” Colfer said. “And we are going to bring it.”