AZUSA, Calif. -- Sophomore defender Katie Rorabaugh scored the “golden goal” just past 4 minutes into overtime, lifting the NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Azusa Pacific to a 2-1 victory over Cal State San Marcos in the semifinals of the NAIA Region II Women’s Soccer Playoffs Friday afternoon.
The region’s top-seeded Cougars will host second-seeded California Baptist, a 2-0 winner over Point Loma Nazarene this afternoon, in the regional championship on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. at the Cougar Soccer Complex.
After a 15-3 shots advantage in 90 minutes of regulation netted a 1-1 deadlock, Rorabaugh converted the Cougars’ first chance of extra time, a 10-yard strike to the right side of the Cal State San Marcos goalkeeper. Junior forward Sarah Yoro took the ball to the right corner of the box, drawing out the defense, then slotted a ball to Rorabaugh, who finished it off for the win.
“Coach moved me up top to start overtime because I was still pretty fresh,” said Rorabaugh, an All-GSAC defender. “Sarah dribbled across, and I saw her defender go with her. I just cut across in front, and she flicked it back to me. I was wide open, and as I got the ball, I took a touch forward. It was just me and the keeper, and I saw the right corner wide open.”
After a scoreless first half in which Azusa Pacific generated a 7-0 shooting margin, the Cougars kept up a relentless attack to start the second half. Sophomore Theresa Broad worked her way past a defender into the box, but was taken down before she could get a shot off. Yoro converted the ensuing penalty kick to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead in the 52nd minute.
“When they pulled down Theresa in the box, I knew it was going to be my shot so I better capitalize on it,” said Yoro. “I just tried to stay calm, keep my composure and hit it in early.”
Less than 90 seconds later, the game was tied again, when Katelyn Krauss headed in Taylor Ziencina’s cross from the right side just past the 53-minute mark, bringing Cal State San Marcos back even at 1-1.
Junior forward Grace Eleyae headed an Azusa Pacific corner kick towards goal with less than 5 minutes to play in regulation, but Cal State San Marcos goalkeeper Jane Drury was up to the task, making 1 of her 5 saves in the game to help send the game to overtime.
The teams combined for 30 fouls in a physical contest in which Randie Massro, the 2007 Golden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year, left the game under her own power after a vicious collision resulted in a bloody cut above the senior midfielder’s eye. Massro did not play in the second half but came back to anchor the Cougar defense in overtime, allowing Rorabaugh to play an attacking role in the extra time.
“I was hoping our team would score in the second half, but as time was running out, I told myself to suck it up and go in there and just hope for the best,” said Massro, who has started all 80 games of her 4-year Cougar career. “Other than breaking my nose last year, this was one of the tougher injuries I’ve had to deal with. It’s all part of the game, so you just have to try to roll with the punches.”
Azusa Pacific won the first meeting between the teams in similar fashion, a 1-0 Cougar victory Sept. 7. The regular-season contest featured 31 fouls, and Azusa Pacific out-shot Cal State San Marcos by a 12-6 margin.
“I knew from last time we played that they were an extremely athletic group that liked to pressure and work hard,” said Cougar head coach Jason Surrell. “This was a hard-fought game and that was exactly what we wanted. It’s been a long time since we’ve had to fight to the end of the game like we did today. This was a national tournament-level game, which is what you should expect coming out of our region.”
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 16-1-1 on the season, while Cal State San Marcos, in just its second year as a women’s soccer program, ends its campaign at 7-7-4.
Ticket prices for Tuesday’s NAIA Region II Women’s Soccer Championship game against California Baptist, as established by NAIA Region II administration, are as follows: Adults - $7, Faculty and Staff - $5, Students - $4, children under 10 – free.