PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Freshman forward Haley Fisher’s 75th-minute goal snapped a scoreless tie, and her first collegiate goal was all Azusa Pacific needed to hold on for a 1-0 road win over Grand Canyon University Saturday night in Phoenix.
The victory snapped the Cougars’ second two-game losing streak this year, and it kept alive a streak that now spans eight straight games in which Azusa Pacific has been involved in a shutout. This time, it was Fisher’s finish of Cassidy Burr’s cross from the right that provided all of the game’s scoring, and senior goalkeeper Michelle Wieland saved all five shots that made it through the stingy Cougar defense to post her fourth shutout of the year.
Fisher’s goal was one of just three second-half shots for Azusa Pacific, which out-shot Grand Canyon in the opening half by a 10-3 margin. For the game, the Cougars registered 13 shots to GCU’s nine.
“The first half was the best half of soccer we’ve played all season,” Cougar head coach Jason Surrell said. “We played really well and their goalkeeper made a couple of really nice saves. The second half was a little more even, but Michelle had a few key saves, and we finally finished one of our chances.”
Grand Canyon goalkeeper Catherine Lena made three of her four saves in the first half to keep the game scoreless at the break, including two stops on shots from Fisher, who finished with a team-high five shots in the game. Grand Canyon didn’t register its first shot of the game until the 40th minute, at which point the Cougars had already fired 10 shots.
“We had spent the last few days talking about motivation and what to play for, because we felt (our struggles) had been more of a mental thing than a physical thing,” Surrell said. “It was good to play well in the first half, but it wasn’t good enough to not finish one of our chances early on.”
After a season-opening defeat in overtime, Azusa Pacific has traded shutouts with each of its past eight opponents, winning four without surrendering a goal while losing four without scoring. The Cougars had lost four of their past six in a stretch which included only one home game, and Saturday’s win sends Azusa Pacific home for the next four matches with a 3-2 record in Pacific West Conference play.
“Our approach is always one game at a time, but we like the fact that we’re going to be home for a bit,” said Surrell, whose last three weeks have included contests in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. “The long road trips are an adjustment, but we just have to remember that in between the lines it’s still the same game. We have to push all the newness of the league and travel aside and focus on playing our game.”
With the win, Azusa Pacific moves into the top-five in the conference with nine points, improving to 3-2 in PacWest play and 4-5 overall. The Cougars host Hawaii Pacific at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, the first of four straight home games. Grand Canyon falls to 2-1-2 in PacWest play and 3-4-2 overall.