AZUSA, Calif. -- For the sixth consecutive year, Azusa Pacific is the Golden State Athletic Conference women’s soccer regular-season champion. By virtue of Biola's 2-1 win over The Master's Saturday afternoon in La Mirada, the Cougars held on to a 1-point lead over The Master's in the final GSAC standings while sitting idle with a bye on the final weekend of conference play.
Azusa Pacific entered the weekend with an 8-1-1 conference record, while The Master's was 8-1 and in need of the road victory to claim the league's regular-season title and the accompanying No. 1 seed in the upcoming GSAC Postseason Tournament. The Master's finished 8-2, and the Cougars became the first program to win 6 straight GSAC women’s soccer titles.
With just 3 seniors and 3 juniors on the roster, head coach Jason Surrell’s youthful 2010 squad opened the 10-game conference slate with a draw at home to Vanguard, which was then ranked No. 8 in the NAIA but ended up missing the postseason altogether after a ninth-place finish in the GSAC.
“You try to stress the importance of every conference game, and as you look at it now, we wouldn’t have won the conference outright if we had lost that match,” Surrell said. “It’s rewarding for such a young group to stay on top of the league. It says something about the caliber of the kids that we’ve got, along with the tradition our program has of being a hard-working team with a desire to be on top. I think the young group has gotten ahold of that idea.”
The Cougars rebounded with a 5-game winning streak, knocking off previously-unbeaten The Master’s at the end of the run to take control of the conference race as the GSAC’s lone unbeaten team.
Four days later, an uninspired effort led to Azusa Pacific’s lone defeat of the year, a 2-1 overtime loss to California Baptist in the first of 3 consecutive road games. The loss put The Master’s back in control of the GSAC race, but the Cougars kept the pressure on with back-to-back 2-0 wins on the road over Westmont and San Diego Christian before wrapping up the regular season with a 3-1 win over Fresno Pacific Oct. 26.
“The loss to California Baptist never really affected us,” Surrell said. “We just stuck to what we do, and that’s putting in hard work and trying to get better. We feel like we’ve got a good group of players, and we’ll continue to work at it regardless of wins and losses.”
Azusa Pacific is ranked No. 3 in the NAIA and will host the GSAC's eighth-place finisher, Fresno Pacific, in the first round of the GSAC Postseason Tournament on Tuesday, Nov. 2, in a 2 p.m. matchup at the Cougar Soccer Complex. The Cougars will now be assured of home-field advantage throughout the conference tournament.
Admission prices for all GSAC Postseason Tournament contests are as follows:
Faculty, Staff, Seniors (age 65+): $6
Students: $5 (Azusa Pacific students free with valid student ID, courtesy of Azusa Pacific soccer programs)