The victory not only avenges the Cougars’ only loss of the season, a 1-0 setback on the Blue Raiders’ field back on Sept. 15, but it puts Azusa Pacific back into the national championship game for the second straight year and the fourth time since 1998.
Massro, a 5-foot-9 senior midfielder who was named the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) Player of the Year, used her noticeable height advantage by heading a Cougar corner kick into the back of the net less than 4 minutes into the second half to give Azusa Pacific a 1-0 lead.
Twenty minutes later, Domene dribbled down the middle of the field and launched a 20-foot shot the sailed past LWC keeper Carrie Revlett for her seventh goal of the season, putting Azusa Pacific up by what seemed to be an insurmountable 2-goal advantage.
However, with 11 minutes remaining, Lindsey Wilson answered when Kimmia Parker converted a perfectly placed cross from Omolyn Davis to cut Azusa Pacific’s lead in half and set a potentially dramatic finish.
The Cougar defense, led by All-American keeper Jill Colfer-Martinson, stuffed every Blue Raider attack the rest of the way to preserve the win, which was especially meaningful for Azusa Pacific, which also lost to Lindsey Wilson in last year’s national championship game, 2-1, in 4 overtimes.
“The girls were fantastic,” said eighth-year Cougar head coach Jason Surrell. “They played with their brains as well as putting forth the effort to show how much they wanted to avenge our 1 loss of the year, and to do it here at the national championship tournament is sweet. But we still have one more to go.”
With the victory, Azusa Pacific improves to 20-1-1 and will face Martin Methodist College of Pulaski, Tenn., which improved to 15-4 on the season after beating No. 1-ranked Lee University (Tenn.), 2-0, in the other semifinal game. Kickoff for the national championship game is set for Tuesday (Nov. 20) at 4 p.m. (PST).
It’s the first-ever meeting between the 2 national powers. Azusa Pacific won the 1998 NAIA championship, and Martin Methodist collected the school’s first-ever national title in 2005.
Combined with Azusa Pacific’s 1-0 semifinal victory over Simon Fraser University earlier today in the NAIA Men’s Soccer Championship Tournament in Olathe, Kan., Azusa Pacific becomes the first school in NAIA history to play for the men’s and women’s soccer championships in back-top-back seasons. The Cougar men will play GSAC rival Concordia University at 5 p.m. (PST) in the championship game Tuesday (Nov. 20).