AZUSA, Calif.-- The last time Azusa Pacific and Vanguard played, freshman defender Logan Chan scored her first career goal in the 99th minute to give the Cougars a 1-0 win on the road. This time, with a trip to the GSAC semifinals on the line the NAIA’s No. 4 ranked Cougars got a golden-goal from Natalie Sun in the 94th minute to post a 1-0 defeat of the Lions in overtime on Tuesday afternoon.
Azusa Pacific (12-2-1) outshot Vanguard (12-5-1) 18-4 in the match, and put nine attempts on frame on the day.
“I thought in the first half they came out real hard and in the second half we played really well,” said Head Coach Jason Surrell. “We created a lot of chances, and not just chances, quality chances. I thought we deserved a goal for [how many opportunities we created]. “
The Cougars, who entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed (although ranked No. 4 nationally), looked lethargic through the opening minutes. In fact, neither team got off a shot until Sun dribbled the ball into the box and struck a ball that sailed three yards over the bar from 20 yards out in the 20th minute.
On the following possession Vanguard’s Gabriela Valles put a shot on target, but Michelle Wieland grabbed it for her first of four saves in the match as she posted her seventh shutout in eight starts this year.
The next opportunity for the Cougars came when Shannon Hardy led a one-on-none break in the 36th minute, but the Lion’s keeper, Terry Lauren, aggressively raced towards the freshman and dove on the ball to keep the match knotted at zeroes with one of her eight saves.
Then as the first-half clock wound down, Daniella Perez planted her left foot just inside the box and nearly gave Azusa Pacific a one-score lead, but her shot traveled a yard over the bar to end the first 45 minutes.
The Cougars held a 5-2 shot advantage in the half, while both teams combined for three fouls in a match where the officials scarcely stopped the play.
In the second half Azusa Pacific nearly took the lead when Chan crossed it to a sprinting Heidi Witschi 10 yards outside the goal. But Terry intercepted it for her first of many great second-half plays.
In the 78th minute a Lions defender tried to send a ball downfield but her pass ricocheted off the back of a fellow player, setting up Sun for another chance when she raced down field with nobody around. However, her shot from 20 yards out on the right side of the box landed in the keeper’s arms; setting up a transition opportunity for Vanguard.
On the ensuing play Lauren Skachenko nearly gave her team the lead, but Wieland got a piece of it to keep it scoreless.
In the 80th minute Markie Gleason almost recorded her second game-winner in a row when her shot from the top of the box traveled directly towards the left post. But again Terry saved the day, making a right-handed stop on a full-extension dive.
A possession later Amanda Hardy’s left footed shot on the right side of the box curled into the Terry’s arms as the keeper tallied six second-half saves.
A match-defining moment came in the 86th minute when Amanda Hardy’s corner kick resulted in an unbelievable missed opportunity for the Cougars. On the pass Molly Lavin got the first chance to score, but her shot was saved by a diving Terry. As the keeper was on the ground Sun got off two shots from point-blank range, the first blocked and the second off-target; summing up a match that saw Azusa Pacific create chance after chance without a result.
Heading into its fifth overtime of the season the Cougars had the edge in shots (16-4) after creating 11 opportunities compared to two for Vanguard.
In the opening minutes of overtime Sun got past the backline, but mishandled the ball, allowing the Lions to stop her from getting a shot off.
A minute later she got by the Lions and took a shot inside the box, but Terry made yet another stop.
“She kept them in the game,” said Surrell about Terry’s effort. “But with the chances we were creating it was just a matter of time.”
And he was right, as Sun again beat Vanguard’s backline and dribbled it deep into the box before placing it right-side by Terry to keep the Cougars alive in their final GSAC tournament.
“I feel like a let my team down a little bit today,” said Sun after putting four of her five shots on frame. “It was frustrating, but the team kept getting me opportunities and I knew I had to capitalize. It’s very exciting, we all worked hard today.”
Azusa Pacific recorded its 11th shutout this season, and has registered eight clean sheets in 10 contests against GSAC opponents. With the win the Cougars will host a semifinal match on Friday at 2 p.m. against The Master’s after the Mustangs upset Biola on PK’s this afternoon.