CARSON, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Azusa Pacific answered a pair of second-half goals with 2 scores off free kicks, with sophomore forward Natalie Sun burying the equalizer from 20 yards out in the final minute of regulation to give the Cougars a season-opening 2-2 draw with defending NCAA Division II runner-up Cal State Dominguez Hills Saturday evening.
A Toros foul just outside the box gave Sun and the Cougars a final free-kick opportunity, and Sun capitalized with a perfect strike over the Cal State Dominguez Hills wall of defenders to help Azusa Pacific complete its comeback from a 2-goal second-half deficit. Senior forward Jennie Cress cut the 2-0 lead in half with a 35-yard free kick in the 59th minute.
“Coming back from a 2-goal deficit and finishing some key opportunities was a very positive sign for us,” Cougar head coach Jason Surrell said. “I was pleased with the way we adjusted to the game and found ways to create additional scoring chances throughout the second half.”
Both of Cal State Dominguez Hills’ scores came off the feet of junior forward Jessica Murphy, just over a minute apart early in the second half. Murphy broke the scoreless tie less than 4 minutes into the second half with a long strike from over 30 yards, and just over a minute later she put away Taylor Canatsey’s cross from the left side with a 10-yard touch to the far post.
Murphy ended up taking 11 of her team’s 17 shots, and she put 8 of them on goal, including a shot from the left side midway through the first half that was cleared off the line by an Azusa Pacific defender. In the 77th minute, Murphy nearly picked up a hat-trick with a shot that glanced off the right post.
Freshman forward Laura Feehs took a team-high 4 shots in her collegiate debut, putting 2 on goal. The Cougars were out-shot by a 9-3 margin in the opening half, and Cal State Dominguez Hills finished with a 17-10 advantage in total shots for the game. Junior goalkeeper Alexa Douglas shook off Murphy’s scoring outburst and matched her 3-save first half with another 3 after halftime to tie her career-high with 6 total saves.
With the draw, Azusa Pacific takes a record of 0-0-1 into a stretch of 3 consecutive home games, starting with a Wednesday, Aug. 25 matchup with Trinity Western (B.C.). Cal State Dominguez Hills, which played Saturday’s contest as an exhibition, officially opens its 2010 campaign when it takes on a pair of Golden State Athletic Conference programs in back-to-back home games against Concordia (Sept. 2) and Vanguard (Sept. 4).