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Looking For A Spark

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Published
September 25, 2010
By
Joe Reinsch
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AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific never got the extra second-half spark it needed, and the NAIA’s top-ranked Cougars had to settle for a 1-1 double-overtime draw with No. 8-ranked Vanguard Saturday afternoon at the Cougar Soccer Complex.

Sophomore midfielder Markie Gleason scored Azusa Pacific’s lone goal, collecting a deflection off a defender at the top of the box for a 16-yard strike into the net to break the scoreless tie in the 59th minute. However, Vanguard drew even on Danielle Dintino’s short header on a picture-perfect near-post run off Gabriela Valles’ corner kick in the 74th minute.

Junior goalkeeper Alexa Douglas tied her season-high with 6 saves, matching the 6 saves she had in the season opener, a 2-2 draw with Cal State Dominguez Hills. Douglas made 4 of her saves in 20 minutes of overtime, including her last stop in the opening minute of the second 10-minute overtime period. Vanguard’s Karri Currier drove a low 24-yard shot towards the left post, but Douglas made a diving tip save to keep the ball just outside the frame.

The lethargic Cougar attack, which generated an 8-2 edge in first-half shots, had no such edge after halftime. Azusa Pacific took as many shots (9) as it allowed to Vanguard in the second half and overtime periods.

Three minutes into the first overtime, sophomore forward Heidi Witschi used a short pass off her back heel to give senior midfielder Kelsey Walkeran open look from 24 yards out. Walker fired off 1 of her game-high 5 shots, but her low strike barely missed wide of the right post from the top of the box.

Azusa Pacific created significant differences in total shots (17-11) and corner kicks (9-4), but Vanguard goalkeeper Chelsea Lesniak came up with 5 saves to help limit the Cougars to just 1 scoring tally. Another Cougar shot on goal, a Walker header in the 97th minute, was saved off the line by another Vanguard defender. The Cougars have only been out-shot just once this year, and that was in the season opener.

The draw is Azusa Pacific’s third GSAC-opening tie in the past 8 seasons, and the Cougars remain unbeaten with a 5-0-2 overall and 0-0-1 GSAC mark. Vanguard is now 6-1-2 overall and 0-0-1 GSAC. The next matchup for Azusa Pacific comes Tuesday, Sept. 28, when the Cougars visit Hope International.