RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- It took Azusa Pacific 6 games to take its first lead in the Golden State Athletic Conference, but it only took 4 days for the NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Cougars to give it right back after suffering a 2-1 overtime defeat, its first loss of the year, to No. 14 California Baptist Saturday afternoon in Riverside.
Azusa Pacific claimed the GSAC lead earlier in the week by knocking off previously-unbeaten and No. 4-ranked The Master’s College, but Saturday’s defeat combined with The Master’s posting a 3-1 win over No. 10 Vanguard knocked the Cougars back into second place with 3 games remaining.
After an even but scoreless first half, California Baptist broke through first when Jacquelyn Witz headed in a cross from Fabiola Zanella da Silva in the 67th minute, and it took nearly 20 minutes for the Cougars to equalize. Just past the 86-minute mark, senior midfielder Kelsey Walker’s cross from the left was put away at the near post by sophomore forward Natalie Sun, her fifth goal of the season.
California Baptist took all 3 shots in overtime, and another da Silva cross set up the game-winner from substitute Ashley Richardson, who had taken the field as a reserve just 34 seconds earlier. The game-winner from Richardson, a true freshman, snapped Azusa Pacific’s 23-game unbeaten streak against the Lancers, giving California Baptist its first win over the Cougars since 1995.
Azusa Pacific controlled the end of regulation, firing 3 more shots in the closing minutes after Sun’s equalizer, and the Cougars finished the game with a 15-14 edge in total shots although just 4 of the 15 were on goal. Junior goalkeeper Alexa Douglas made 5 saves while facing 7 shots on goal from the Lancer attack.
The loss drops Azusa Pacific’s overall record to 10-1-2, and the Cougars fall to 5-1-1 in GSAC play. California Baptist has now won back-to-back GSAC games for the first time this year, improving to 4-3 in GSAC play and 10-4 overall. The Lancers are 6-1 against nationally-ranked NAIA opponents this season.
After a pair of road games at Westmont and San Diego Christian next week, Azusa Pacific finishes the conference schedule at home against Fresno Pacific on Tuesday, Oct. 26. The Master’s must either lose or tie one of its final 3 GSAC contests for the Cougars to have any shot at winning the conference’s regular-season title for an unprecedented sixth consecutive season. The Mustangs are off next Tuesday and host Concordia and Westmont before wrapping up the regular season with an Oct. 30 visit to Biola.