AZUSA, Calif. -- Molly Lavin’s first score of the season came in the 95th minute of a win over Rocky Mountain College (Mont.) on Sep. 3. It took the junior midfielder just 80 minutes in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Holy Names University to get her second as the top-ranked Cougars (4-0-1) won their fourth game of the season.
Prior to Lavin’s goal Azusa Pacific missed on 11 tries, including six on goal; a trend that has plagued the team early on.
“It was another one that we didn’t finish,” said Lavin of the play before her goal. “Then I saw Rachael about to hit it so I just ran there.”
On the play Rachael Harding controlled the ball after Holy Names stopped the attack. The junior then flipped it over the defender before Lavin volleyed it past the keeper, breaking a Cougar scoring drought that spanned nearly 190 minutes.
Lost in the shuffle, however, has been the defense, which posted its third consecutive shutout and has allowed just two goals all year.
“That’s three in a row now. If we can stop them from scoring then we can’t lose,” said junior goalkeeper Michelle Wieland. “The defense has been playing really well.”
The Cougars held the Hawks to just one shot on the day, which was saved by Wieland.
In an opening half that saw 37 total players and 100+ degree weather both teams struggled to get anything going. In the 6th minute a cross from Azusa Pacific went through the keeper’s hands, but the offense failed to get off a shot with an open goal.
Minutes later Brittany Flanagan had a wide-open look off a Natalie Sun cross, but the senior’s shot was right at the goalie. Flanagan had five shots in the match, four of which were on goal.
The team had only three shots in the first 45 minutes, but held the Hawks without an attempt.
The second half opened with a bang, but no goal. The Cougars had three great looks in the first five minutes, but couldn’t convert.
In the 60th minute it looked like Azusa Pacific would break the spell when Sun had a one-on-none fastbreak. But the junior couldn’t get it past Holy Names’ Ayana Brumfield, who had six saves in the match.
Twenty minutes later Lavin’s goal gave the team its first score since the junior’s golden goal against RMC. The team held on to win, improving its record over HNU to 2-0.
The Cougars outshot HNU 13-1 on the day, and have held opposing teams to an average of .38 goals per game.
"We need to not put so much pressure on our defense, sooner or later we're going to give up a goal," said Head Coach Jason Surrell after the team struggled to find the back of the net. "It’s probably becoming more of a mental thing at this point...I told my girls not to touch a ball for a few days."
Azusa Pacific won’t have amatch until the team squares off with Point Loma Nazarene for the GSAC home-opener on Oct. 1.
“Early on I wasn’t happy about it, but the way we’re out right now with injuries it couldn’t come at a better time,” said Surrell about the break. “I said if we can get through his game with a win we’ll be in good shape.”
Jacqueline Conforto, Allie Stone, and Mariam Monroe are all sidelined with injuries.