AZUSA, Calif. -- Freshman forward Laura Feehs scored her first collegiate goal, then added second and third scores for the first hat trick at any level, leading the NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Azusa Pacific to a 4-1 win over Kansas Wesleyan Saturday afternoon at the Cougar Soccer Complex.
Feehs, held scoreless on 6 shots through the first 3 games of the season entering Saturday, didn’t take long to expose the soft spot in the Kansas Wesleyan defense. She broke through for her first score with a run to the near post to finish a cross from the right side, and it was a run she repeated for her second and third goals, as well. Senior forward Jennie Cress put the ball at Feehs’ feet from the right touch line, and Feehs touched it into the net at the far post on the left side to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead less than 6 minutes into the game.
“As a forward, it always feels good to score,” Feehs said. “I wouldn’t say that I felt a lot of pressure to score so much as I wanted to finish what we had been working on in practice.”
She added scores in the 38th and 49th minutes to complete the hat trick, giving Azusa Pacific a 3-1 margin that expanded to 4-1 with sophomore defender Rachael Harding’s first career goal in the 82nd minute. Harding’s 17-yard laser from the left side of the box ricocheted off the inside of the far post and into the back netting to give the Cougars a 3-goal final margin of victory.
Feehs made it a 2-0 game late in the first half, this time using another near-post run to place sophomore forward Natalie Sun’s cross from the right into the far post side netting. Another Sun cross from the right set up the completion of the hat trick, another near-post run that Feehs finished at the near post just over 3 minutes into the second half for a 3-1 lead.
“I got great passes from Jennie and Natalie right at my feet,” said Feehs, “and that allowed me to just focus on finishing it.”
Kansas Wesleyan managed just 4 shots in the game, scoring on its only first-half shot in the 40th minute. Corina Villegas dribbled around a Cougar defender into the right side of the box and buried a low shot to the left into the back of the net to cut Azusa Pacific’s lead to 2-1 heading into halftime. None of the Coyotes’ 3 shots in the second half were on goal.
“I was pleased with our effort, with the exception of the lapse we had to let them back into the game right before halftime,” Cougar head coach Jason Surrell said. “Still, we got 85 minutes of solid play, and I felt like the team really executed a lot of what we worked on in practice this week.”
Azusa Pacific enjoyed an 18-4 margin in total shots, with Feehs putting 5 of her 7 total shots on goal. The Cougars had 6 corner kicks and didn’t allow a single corner kick opportunity to Kansas Wesleyan, which is winless through 5 games with an overall record of 0-3-2.
With the win, the Cougars improve to 3-0-1 on the year and extended their home winning streak (regular- and post-season) against non-GSAC opponents to 19 games. Azusa Pacific wraps up its non-conference schedule with games against the teams that were responsible for 2 of the Cougars’ 3 defeats in 2009, taking on William Carey (Miss.) and Lee (Tenn.) at Lee’s Lady Flames Classic in Cleveland, Tenn.