AZUSA, Calif. -- For the first time in over a month, the NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Azusa Pacific scored more goals in the opening half than in the second half, using a pair of first-half strikes to claim a 3-0 win over No. 10-ranked Concordia Tuesday afternoon. The victory extends Azusa Pacific’s home unbeaten streak to a program-record 31 games.
In her first game starting since an injury suffered in the Cougars’ 3-2 win over Lee (Tenn.) in mid-September sidelined her for 4 weeks, sophomore Bridget Brotherton celebrated her return to the starting lineup with the game’s first goal just over 20 minutes into the contest. Freshman midfielder Lynsey Domene played a long ball from midfield over the top to Brotherton, who touched it to the right past Concordia goalkeeper Suzanne Torres before burying it into the left side of the empty net.
“It’s always nice to put a goal in early,” said Brotherton. “I feel like we’ve struggled early on lately, so it was nice to finally get on the board in the first half. It’s been frustrating to watch without being able to help, so it was nice to be able to contribute.”
Less than 10 minutes later, Domene’s corner kick from the left side bounced across the front of the goal before senior midfielder Sara Odenthal corralled it and fired to the far post for her first goal of the season, giving the Cougars a 2-0 lead they took into halftime.
“Before the game, I was talking with Lynsey (Domene) and mentioned she hadn’t scored in awhile,” said Odenthal. “She said it had been 2 games for her. Well, it’s been all season for me, and I told her I’d really like to score in an important game, like this one. I’m not worried about scoring as long as we’re doing well, but I’ve been waiting a long time for one.”
The teams combined for just 3 total shots in the first 25 minutes of the second half before Domene made a long run with the ball from midfield toward the goal. Domene was taken down in the box to set up a Cougar penalty kick in the 71st minute. Junior midfielder Sarah Yoro successfully converted her fifth penalty-kick opportunity of the season with a drive to the left side that froze Concordia goalkeeper Jamie Carney and gave Azusa Pacific a 3-0 lead with less than 20 minutes to play.
“To score 3 goals on a team that has done well in conference and throughout the season is a good result,” said Cougar head coach Jason Surrell, “but I think we’ve got another couple levels we need to get to, and we’re not there yet.”
The Cougars out-shot Concordia 13-4, including a 10-2 margin in the first half, and the Eagles’ 4 shots were the third-fewest surrendered this year by an Azusa Pacific defense that posted its eighth shutout of the season. Senior goalkeeper Jill Colfer-Martinson saved both of Concordia’s second-half shots, preserving her fifth shutout through 7 conference games and increasing her program-record career shutout total to 42.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 11-1-1 overall, 7-0 in GSAC play, while Concordia drops to 11-3-1 overall, 5-2-1 in conference play. The Cougars visit No. 6-ranked Point Loma Nazarene Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in their fourth game this season against an opponent currently ranked in the NAIA’s top 10. Coupled with California Baptist’s 1-0 loss to Vanguard this evening, Azusa Pacific needs just 1 win over its final 3 games to clinch at least a share of the GSAC regular-season title.