At the outset of today’s game, each team played with pressure and intensity. The first breakthrough came in the seventh minute when Cougar forward Bridget Brotherton was able to convert a corner kick from All-GSAC freshman midfielder Lynsey Domene to give Azusa Pacific a quick 1-0 lead. Less than 5 minutes later, the Seahawks erased the deficit with a long pass, following a penalty, from Katya Salguero to Lene Bjerkell, who was able to put it crisply out of the reach of Cougar All-American senior goalkeeper Jill Colfer-Martinson.
“After their goal, we looked at one another and said ‘no more,’” said sophomore defender Tiffany Makinster. “When we remain calm, it settles the midfield which, in turn, helps keep the forwards focused. We know we will score; as a defense we just become determined to work harder to make it happen. It’s the fact that we want it.”
Late in the first half, both defenses had moments of pressure, and there were some long ball exchanges with no real advantage to either team. Still, at the end of the half, despite the tie score, the stats foretold the story of the evening. Azusa Pacific had 5 shots on goal out of a total of six shots; Northwood had 1 of 3. Colfer-Martinson had made one save; Adi Jurman for the Seahawks had saved 3. And, time of possession clearly favored the Cougars
The second half opened with Azusa Pacific holding the ball routinely deep in Northwood’s half. In the first 5 minutes, 3 throw-ins near the 18-yard line, led to a similar number of shots. In the next 5 minutes the teams traded chances on free kicks, with neither converting. Then, All-GSAC sophomore forward Theresa Broad made 2 deep runs down the left side, offering crosses to fDomene and all GSAC midfielder senior Sara Odenthal. Both were cleared away.
Finally, 15 minutes into the half, a shot by junior forward Sara Yoro was deflected over the end line, giving the Cougars a corner kick. All-GSAC sophomore Katie Rorabaugh sent the ball into the box where it was headed by Brotherton toward the goal where Yoro finished it with another header to give Azusa Pacific a 2-1 lead in the 60th minute.
“It took us a bit to acclimate to the way Northwood was trying to play the game,” said Brotherton. “Once we settled down, there were so many chances. We got a lot of corner kicks and it felt especially good to see us capitalize early on one and then get another.”
The third Azusa Pacific goal came quickly after a foul provided momentary advantage to the Seahawks. Rorabaugh returned the ball down the left touchline; Broad received it and crossed to Domene for the score.
Freshmen Kjersti Lang and Jennie Cress, and junior Grace Eleyae entered the game and each had opportunities, especially a deep run into the box for Eleyae in which Jurman made one of her 6 saves of the second half. Then, with just under 5 minutes to play, Eleyae played a ball forward to Broad who touched it into the left corner of the goal for the Cougars’ fourth goal of the game and Broad’s fourth in the championship tournament. The score also ties her for third on the Cougar all-time scoring list with 46 career goals.
Azusa Pacific head coach Jason Surrell was pleased with the effort and anticipates continued energy and improvements: “It’s always a goal to make it to the final four at the national championship – to be there is great. The team has played well, during the second half tonight, extremely well. They deserve to be where they are.”
The loss ends the season for the Florida Sun Conference and Region X!V champion Northwood and snaps the Seakhawks’ 14-game winning streak. They close the season at 15-2-0.
Azusa Pacific suffered its only loss of this 19-1-1 season in September to the Blue Raiders, a 1-0 setbackin Columbia, Ky. Azusa Pacific leads the all time series 4-2-1.