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Cougars Deliver Opening Statement

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November 22, 2008
Joe Reinsch
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AZUSA, Calif. -- In its first-ever opportunity to host a national tournament contest, fourth-seeded Azusa Pacific tied the NAIA Tournament scoring record with a 10-1 rout over California Pacific Conference champion William Jessup University in the Opening Round of the 2008 NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship Saturday afternoon at the Cougar Soccer Complex.

In addition to tying the single-match national tournament scoring record, set in 1995 by Southern Nazarene (Okla.) in a 10-0 win over Westmar (Iowa), Azusa Pacific tied the tournament single-match assists record, becoming the fifth team in NAIA history with 6 assists in a national tournament game.

For the first time in NAIA history, 15 Opening Round games were played on campus sites nationwide, with the 15 winners advancing to join tournament host Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., from Dec. 1-6. Embry-Riddle did not have to play an Opening Round contest, fitting into the bracket opposite the vacated second seed.

The fourth-seeded Cougars, who are actually the third-highest seed in the tournament due to an NAIA decision to vacate the second seed in the bracket, improve to 18-2 on the season and advance to a second-round matchup at the final site in Daytona Beach with 13th-seeded Cal State San Marcos, a 2-0 winner over Benedictine (Kan.) this afternoon.

All 15 seeded teams advanced over unseeded teams today, and Azusa Pacific’s 9-goal margin of victory was the largest in the tournament’s opening round.

“The girls came out and they were ready to go today,” Cougar head coach Jason Surrell said. “I didn’t have to say a word in the locker room, which is a first. They were so loud and fired up, I just stepped out of the locker room and said, ‘Let’s go play.’ As a group, they’re pretty unified, and they just want to make a run at it. They know the deck is stacked against us, in terms of the seed and how that all played out. We know that, and we’ve got a little chip on our shoulder because of it.”

Golden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year Theresa Broad scored on Azusa Pacific’s first shot of the game, heading All-GSAC senior forward Bridget Brotherton’s cross from the right side into the back of the net for a quick 1-0 lead just 3:07 into the contest. Another Brotherton cross just 5 minutes later found the feet of All-GSAC senior forward Sarah Yoro, whose strike to the near post gave the Cougars a 2-0 lead in the ninth minute.

“We always want to start quickly, so it was nice to do that today,” Brotherton said. “It’s a great confidence builder heading into nationals, and it was nice to get such a great result. This is the first step towards our final goal. I think that we’re definitely on the right track, and we’re excited for it.”

In the 11th minute, Melissa Plinski took a free kick at a steep angle near the touch line just outside the right side of the penalty box. She hooked a ball to the far post that crossed over the goal line, cutting Azusa Pacific’s lead to 2-1, but the Cougars answered just over 3 minutes later, when the Cougars put together an extended attack that eventually resulted in another Broad score in the 15th minute. After back-to-back corner kicks and a Broad header that was saved by William Jessup goalkeeper Dixie Blackwell, sophomore midfielder Lynsey Domene set up Broad in dangerous territory, laying it off from the middle of the penalty box to Broad about 10 yards out on the right side. Broad’s shot to the far post went uncontested for a 3-1 lead, and the Cougars added 5 more scores each from different players to take an 8-1 halftime lead.

Brotherton scored in the 21st minute, and Domene and Yoro tacked on penalty kicks after each was fouled in the box in the 29th and 30th minutes, respectively. Junior defender Katie Rorabaugh set up the next Azusa Pacific score, finding senior forward Mandi Morrow over the top of the William Jessup defense. Morrow beat Blackwell to the ball, lobbing it over her for a one-hopper into the goal that gave the Cougars a 7-1 lead in the 32nd minute, and junior midfielder Marissa Ranberger took control of a loose ball and scored from 15 yards out with just over a minute to play in the opening half.

“We didn’t work this hard (all year) just to win the first round at nationals,” Morrow said, “so it was important that as a team we could continue to prepare ourselves for the rest of the tournament. We came out in this game wanting to send a message to the rest of the teams in the tournament, that we’re here to play hard every game, and no matter what the score is, we’re just going to keep playing hard.”

Eight of Azusa Pacific’s 11 starters didn’t play in the second half, with freshman goalkeeper Alexa Douglas joining with Rorabaugh and junior Tiffany Makinster in the central defense to post a scoreless second half. Senior forward Grace Eleyae scored from 17 yards out in the 52nd minute, and Morrow’s 80th-minute breakaway goal, set up by sophomore midfielder Stephanie Yoro, rounded out the scoring.

Azusa Pacific out-shot the Warriors by a 28-4 margin, and the Cougars have out-shot their 2008 postseason foes, 100-21 , while running the program’s postseason home unbeaten streak to 15 games.

2008 NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship
Opening Round Results

No. 1 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (H) def. Siena Heights (Mich.), 1-0
No. 16 McKendree (Ill.) (H) def. Kansas Wesleyan, 1-0
No. 9 Northwood (Fla.) (H) def. Maine-Fort Kent, 7-0
No. 8 Graceland (Iowa) (H) def. Hastings (Neb.), 4-0
No. 5 Concordia (Ore.) (H) def. St. Ambrose (Iowa), 3-0
No. 12 Berry (Ga.) (H) tied King (Tenn.), 0-0 (2OT) (Berry advances on PKs, 5-4)
No. 13 Cal State San Marcos (H) def. Benedictine (Kan.), 2-0
No. 4 Azusa Pacific (Calif.) (H) def. William Jessup (Calif.), 10-1
No. 3 Lee (Tenn.) (H) def. Ohio Dominican, 3-0
No. 14 Park (Mo.) (H) def. Dordt (Iowa), 2-1 (2OT)
No. 11 Simon Fraser (B.C.) (H) def. Rocky Mountain (Mont.), 1-0
No. 6 Martin Methodist (Tenn.) (H) def. Indiana Wesleyan, 2-0