AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific scored goals in the first and last 10 minutes of a 3-1 win over Biola Saturday afternoon at the Cougar Soccer Complex, and the NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Cougars held their opponent without a single shot in at least 1 half for the third straight game.
With the win, the Cougars improve to 9-0-2 overall and 4-0-1 in GSAC play, setting up a Tuesday, Oct. 13 clash with the top team in the GSAC standings, No. 5-ranked The Master’s College. Biola drops to 4-4-2 overall and 1-2-1 in GSAC play. Azusa Pacific also visits No. 11 California Baptist next week, making it 7 NAIA Top 25 opponents in a stretch of 9 matches for the Cougars, who have won 5 straight GSAC regular-season championships.
“Everywhere you look, there’s another ranked opponent,” said Cougar head coach Jason Surrell of his team’s challenging regular-season slate. “It’s something we’re accustomed to, and we’ve come to expect it in our conference. We treat each game like it’s our biggest game of the year.”
Both teams scored on their first shot of the game, although Azusa Pacific’s goal from junior midfielder Brittany Flanagan came in the eighth minute while Biola’s first shot was Caitlin Peterson’s 79th-minute penalty kick that ended the shutout with just over 11 minutes to play. Biola’s only other shot came with just 2 minutes to play, and it missed wide.
Freshman forward Laura Feehs produced a pair of goals off the bench, creating 9 shots in 60 minutes of action. She doubled the Cougars’ lead to 2-0 with a chip over Biola goalkeeper Erin Frushon in the 75th minute and was credited with an unassisted score when she blocked an attempted clearance from a Biola defender into the goal in the 83rd minute.
In all, Azusa Pacific amassed a 26-2 advantage in shots and put 11 shots on goal, creating a double-digit edge in shots for the third straight game. With Biola’s shotless first half, the Cougars have put together 45-minute stretches without allowing a shot in 3 consecutive games and have done so twice against NAIA Top 25-ranked opponents. A week ago, then-No. 17 Point Loma Nazarene didn’t get a shot off after halftime in the Cougars’ 3-2 overtime win, and No. 25 Concordia had no shots until 52 minutes into Azusa Pacific’s 3-0 road win over the Eagles earlier in the week.
Sophomore forward Heidi Witschi set up Flanagan’s eighth-minute score by curling a cross from the left side in front of Frushon, who was guarding the near post. Flanagan settled the pass at her feet, 7 yards from goal, and buried the short strike into the back of the net to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.
Despite firing 11 more shots in the first half, including 3 on goal, the teams remained just a goal apart on the scoreboard at halftime and through a significant portion of the second half until Feehs scored in the 75th minute off sophomore forward Natalie Sun’s team-leading seventh assist of the year. Sun has assisted 3 game-winning goals for the Cougars, who have gotten game-winners from 7 different players.
“I thought it was a good, but not great, effort today,” Surrell said. “After our first goal, we didn’t raise the level quite enough. It was not far off, but it also wasn’t quite where we want it to be.”
Peterson scored on the penalty kick just 4 minutes later, cutting the lead to 2-1, but another 4-minute stretch of play produced Feehs’ second goal of the game. Feehs has scored all of her team-high 7 goals in her past 6 games of play, and Saturday’s 2-goal afternoon was her second multi-goal performance.
“She’s relentless, and having her healthy is a big component of us being successful,” Surrell said. “She’s playing very well for us.”
Azusa Pacific’s 26 shots came from 10 different players, and 7 Cougars fired multiple shots at Frushon, who finished with 8 saves.