AZUSA, Calif. -- Vanguard scored twice in the first 10 minutes and never gave up that lead over the next 80 minutes, earning a 3-1 victory over the NAIA's No. 3-ranked Azusa Pacific Saturday afternoon at the Cougar Soccer Complex.
Although it had already clinched the GSAC championship and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming GSAC Postseason Tournament with Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Hope International, the defeat snapped 3 program-record winning streaks. It was the Cougars’ first GSAC defeat since 2006, snapping a 27-game conference winning streak, and the loss also snapped program-record 41-game home unbeaten and 25-game home winning streaks.
"We worked hard to get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and we have that," Cougar head coach Jason Surrell said. "We wanted to get our starters 45 minutes today and that was our plan coming into it."
Vanguard midfielder Elin Sandgren put the Lions on the board by putting away a 10-yarder off a clear look in the 8th minute. One minute later, Lion midfielder Gabriele Valles scored in nearly-identical fashion as Vanguard increased the lead to 2 goals.
Azusa Pacific responded to the deficit in the 15th minute, when sophomore midfielder Lynsey Domene crossed the ball from the right side over to senior forward Bridget Brotherton, who finished it to the opposite post for her 14th goal of the season.
In the 22nd minute, Vanguard forward Kari Currier gave the Lions a 3-1 lead with a 5-yard strike to the far post from the right side.
The Cougars had chances to cut into Vanguard's 2-goal lead, firing 11 shots on goal for the game. Two of Azusa Pacific’s 18 total shots were surefire opportunities for the Cougars to score a second goal. With 30 seconds to go before halftime, Domene launched a 20-yard shot that just barely cleared the crossbar, a strike that surely would have changed the game’s momentum by cutting the Vanguard lead to 3-2 at halftime. Then, in the 62nd minute, junior defender Lauren Lane missed the far post by less than a yard wide to the right.
"We don't like giving up goals," Surrell said. "We felt like we missed quite a few chances today, but we'll be ready to go on Tuesday."
Azusa Pacific finishes the regular season at 14-2 overall, 9-1 in GSAC, while Vanguard advances to 9-4-3 overall, 4-4-2 in GSAC. Azusa Pacific will host Point Loma Nazarene in the first round of the GSAC Postseason Tournament on Tuesday, Nov. 4, at 2 p.m. at the Cougar Soccer Complex.