DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Senior forward Sarah Yoro scored a pair of first-half goals to help lift fourth-seeded Azusa Pacific into the quarterfinals of the 25th Annual NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship tournament with a 3-0 second-round win over 13th-seeded Cal State-San Marcos Monday afternoon at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
The Cougars will take on fifth-seeded Concordia (Ore.) University on Wednesday, Dec. 3, at 11 a.m. (EST), in the first of 4 quarterfinal matchups.
“We always want to come out strong, and we always want to get that first goal to give us a bit of momentum,” Yoro said. “It just so happened that I was in the right spot, and those goals really helped us stay strong. For the rest of the half, we out-worked them, and I think that scared them a little bit.”
Yoro provided the 2-goal cushion with her 15th and 16th goals of the season, giving her a 3-year career postseason total of 15 goals in 19 playoff contests. In the 9th minute, Yoro got ahold of a loose ball in the center of the box with her back to the goal. After a quick turn, Yoro cut loose a 14-yard laser to the right side to give the Cougars an early 1-0 lead. Just over 20 mintues later, Yoro scored from nearly the same spot in the box, taking the assist from junior forward Theresa Broad to give Azusa Pacific a 2-0 lead in the 31st minute.
Broad redirected a cross from the right side in the 35th minute, finding the head of senior forward Bridget Brotherton deep in the box, but Brotherton’s header hit the inside of the left post and fell into the arms of Cal State San Marcos goalkeeper Brittini Salmon to keep the margin at 2-0 heading into halftime.
Azusa Pacific posted identical 8-1 shooting margins in each half for a 16-2 edge in total shots in the game, despite Cal State San Marcos slowing the attack with 15 fouls compared to the Cougars’ 6. Azusa Pacific managed just a single shot in a 28-minute stretch midway through the second half, and only the fingertips of freshman goalkeeper Alexa Douglas kept Cal State San Marcos from cutting the lead to 2-1 in the 81st minute.
“I was a tad nervous about playing them, after they took us to overtime in the regional semifinals last year,” Cougar head coach Jason Surrell said. “I knew they would make it difficult for us to play. I was very impressed with our composure in the first half. They came at us hard, they pressured us, and it didn’t really seem to faze us. To me, it showed there was a veteran group out on the field tonight.”
After the Cougar defense failed to clear a ball just outside the box, Cal State San Marcos’ Courtney Drummond one-timed the bouncing ball low to Douglas’ left from about 17 yards out. Douglas dove to her left, grazing the shot with her outstretched left hand and deflecting it just enough to hit the right post. The ball rebounded back towards Douglas, where it hit her head as she scrambled to her feet and rolled slowly back across the mouth of the goal. Douglas got back on her feet in time to rescue the ball from danger and preserve Azusa Pacific’s 14th shutout of the season.
“I knew I had gotten enough of it on the initial save,” Douglas said, “but once it hit the post and hit my head, there was a little doubt in my mind that it might go in. I just had to pick myself up and hurry to get the ball.”
Douglas was the only freshman starter for Azusa Pacific, which had 8 starters from the 2007 NAIA title game back on the field for Monday’s opening whistle.
“I’m really excited to be here,” Douglas said. “It’s a great opportunity. I was a little bit nervous, but once the whistle blew, I was ready to go. I trust all my teammates, we had a great practice beforehand, and we all play for each other.”
Broad provided the final insurance goal in the 86th minute when junior defender Tiffany Makinster cleared a ball from the right sideline over the top of the Cal State San Marcos defense. Broad ran onto the ball near the touch line and worked around a defender back towards the top of the box. She split a pair of defenders by cutting back inside for a clear look from 15 yards out, and Broad put the chance away to the left side of the net for her team-high 24th goal of the season.
Azusa Pacific’s 3-goal performance gives the Cougars 83 goals on the season, the third-highest single-season total in program history. The shutout was the 10th in the past 13 games for Azusa Pacific, which has out-shot its postseason opponents, 116-23, in 5 playoff games this season.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 19-2 on the season, while Cal State San Marcos exits its first national tournament in program history with a final record of 13-4-4.