AZUSA, Calif.-- They certainly have a flair for drama. The Azusa Pacific women’s soccer team, which has played in seven overtime games and 14 games decided by a goal or less, found themselves in another tight one as the Cougars escaped with a 1-0 win over Ottawa (Kan.) in the opening round of the NAIA National Championship tournament.
With the win Azusa Pacific heads to Decatur, Alabama to take on Hastings (Neb.) in the round of 16 on November 28 at 11:30 (PST).
The Cougars outshot the Braves 12-2 in the match and created plenty of opportunities as Azusa Pacific put six shots on goal compared to the Braves’ one. But even after dominating possession, they were still at risk of being upset by the Braves well into the second half.
But in the 77th minutes senior Brittany Flanagan, who was playing in her last game at the Cougar Soccer Complex, came to the rescue. The all-GSAC midfielder received a cross from freshman forward Amanda Hardy and headed in the game-winning goal from the middle of the box.
“As a coach you hope that your seniors can make a difference and today she did in a big way,” said Head Coach Jason Surrell. "She’s that driving force for us and has been all year. I’m not surprised she came up big today.”
The Cougars looked like the better team from the opening whistle, but couldn’t convert the advantage to the scoreboard.
“Our timing was a little off, but I thought overall we played well,” said Surrell. “In the game of soccer the longer it stays 0-0 you worry but we’re happy to stay alive.”
Next up for Azusa Pacific is a 15th seeded Hastings (Neb.) team (19-2-1) that came into the tournament tied for the most wins in the country. The Broncos survived an upset scare by Robert Morris; advancing with a 3-2 in overtime win.