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Cougars Heading In Right Direction

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August 25, 2007
Joe Reinsch
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AZUSA, Calif. -- The last time Azusa Pacific took its home field, the Cougars scored 4 first-half goals in the NAIA Region II Championship en route to the national title game.

Not much has changed over the past 9 months, as the Cougars posted 4 opening-half tallies in the 2007 season opener, a 4-0 victory over Concordia (Ore.) Saturday evening at the Cougar Soccer Complex.

Less than 4 minutes into the 2007 campaign, Sarah Yoro headed in Lauren Lane’s service from the right side, sending it to the far post on the Cougars’ first shot attempt of the game.

“She placed the perfect ball for me,” said Yoro, who was Azusa Pacific’s third-leading scorer with 9 goals in 2006. “Theresa took the defender, so I was left open, and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”

Just 11 minutes later, it was Yoro’s turn to set up a goal, crossing it from the left side onto the forehead of unmarked Bridget Brotherton, who drove it into the net for a 2-0 lead less than 15 minutes into the game.

“I came in unmarked, and when I saw Sarah wind up, I had a feeling that the ball might come my way,” said Brotherton, a 2006 NAIA All-American third team selection. “We came out looking for those early goals, and it helped to get an early one to get us that momentum.”

It was quick work for a Cougar team that a year ago needed 2 goals in the final 10 minutes of regulation to break a 1-1 tie in the national semifinals against the same Concordia program.

“We put a ton of pressure on them in the first 30 minutes,” said Cougar head coach Jason Surrell, whose squad was handed a 5-0 defeat earlier in the week in a scrimmage with NCAA Division I No. 25-ranked Long Beach State. “The Long Beach scrimmage put us in the right frame of mind, and we knew we had to get after it early.”

Brotherton scored her second goal of the game in the 25th minute, heading in Lynsey Domene’s corner kick for a 3-0 lead, and senior Mari Kasamoto celebrated her return from her medical redshirt 2006 campaign with a 38th-minute goal. Lane found Kasamoto in traffic at the top of the box, and Kasamoto worked her way free for a head-on look at the goal. She buried the 12-yard shot to left side of goal to give Azusa Pacific a 4-goal advantage heading into halftime.

“We seem to be building on last year’s performance,” said Surrell, who brought back 8 starters from the 2006 NAIA runner-up squad. “There are so many people who were a part of something special last year that want to keep things going.”

In the first half, the Cougars enjoyed a 12-1 shots advantage, and only 1 of Concordia’s 6 total shots required a save from 3-time NAIA All-American goalkeeper Jill Colfer-Martinson. It was her 35th career shutout, putting her 1 cleansheet away from tying the program’s career mark of 36 held by Colfer-Martinson’s predecessor Melissa Strother (2000-03).

Sophomore NAIA All-American forward Theresa Broad drew a crowd of Cavalier defenders every time she touched the ball, but that didn’t stop her from putting a couple of quality chances towards the goal. Her first shot, from a nearly-impossible angle near the touch line from the left side, skimmed the top of the crossbar in the 11th minute. Her other shot, also in the first half, required a save from Concordia goalkeeper Kali Smith.

Brotherton finished with her fourth career multiple-goal game, and Lane’s 2-assist performance marked a career-high.

With the win, Azusa Pacific extends its home unbeaten streak to 25 games and lifted the Cougars to 10-6-3 all-time in season openers. Concordia, which posted a 7-0 victory yesterday over The Master’s in a neutral-site contest at Azusa Pacific, drops to 1-1 to start the season.