SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific took nothing for granted 4 days after suffering its first loss of the season, bouncing back from Saturday’s overtime defeat to California Baptist with a 2-0 road win over Westmont Wednesday afternoon in Santa Barbara.
Freshman forward Laura Feehs scored her team-leading eighth goal of the year in the first 10 minutes, taking her dribble at the defense and into the box. From 16 yards out on the right, Feehs stopped and blasted a brilliant strike to the far post that froze the Westmont goalkeeper in the center of the net. The score came in the ninth minute, much quicker than the 86 scoreless minutes the Cougars played before their first score in Saturday’s loss to California Baptist.
“Getting an early goal is an important thing when you’re coming off a loss,” Cougar head coach Jason Surrell said. “It keeps the belief system going, and I felt like it fueled our fire a little bit more. I really thought our first 45 minutes today was very good, which indicates that the group responded well (from the loss).”
The victory also avenged the last of Azusa Pacific’s 3 losses from the 2009 campaign, as the Cougars posted 2-1 wins over William Carey (Miss.) and Lee (Tenn.) in non-conference action in mid-September this year. Westmont was a 2-1 double-overtime winner in last year’s GSAC matchup, scoring the game-winner in the final second of double-overtime at the Cougar Soccer Complex.
On Wednesday, despite holding what seemed like a narrow 1-goal margin, the Azusa Pacific defense made the lead seem insurmountabl e by allowing only 3 shots from Westmont the entire game. The Cougars racked up 18 shots total, including 10 after halftime.
Junior midfielder Brittany Flanagan gave the Cougars the insurance goal that sealed the win, splitting a pair of defenders off the dribble into the left side of the box. Flanagan slotted the ball past Westmont goalkeeper Roxanne Love to the far post from 10 yards out, giving her team a 2-0 lead just a few ticks past the 79-minute mark.
All 3 Westmont shots were on target, and sophomore goalkeeper Michelle Wieland stopped all 3 to claim her fourth shutout of the season.
“I thought our entire back line did well in limiting Westmont to 3 shots,” Surrell said. “Midway through the first half, Westmont changed their formation to a 1-forward formation when they realized they would need to have a more defensive-minded approach to stay in the game.”
Feehs took a game-high 6 of Azusa Pacific’s 18 shots, including 1 off the post in the closing minutes of the first half. Flanagan and sophomore forward Natalie Sun took 3 shots each, and the Cougars had a 6-1 edge in corner kicks.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 11-1-2 overall with a 6-1-1 GSAC mark, which temporarily puts the Cougars back into the conference lead. Previous GSAC leader The Master’s, which is 6-1 in GSAC play, is off until Saturday, while Azusa Pacific’s bye falls on the final day of the GSAC’s regular-season schedule. Westmont drops to 6-6-2 overall with a 3-4 GSAC record.
The Cougars return to action with Saturday’s visit to San Diego Christian, which is winless in 6 completed GSAC contests this year, before returning home for the regular-season finale against Fresno Pacific at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 26.